Elijah McClain was quiet, quirky, and kind. The 23-year-old Coloradan was a shy and introverted massage therapist. He was slight and anemic, but he kept fit by running. He was passionate about music and taught himself to play the guitar and violin. Elijah was deeply spiritual, committed to peace and pacifism. That included animals too: he was a vegan who spent his lunch hours playing music for stray cats at local Aurora animal shelters so they wouldn’t be lonely.
Elijah McClain was murdered by police on August 24, 2019, for wearing a ski mask. He was returning home from the store with a drink for his cousin, dancing as he walked, bundled up to stay warm (he often felt cold). A 9-1-1 caller reported him as suspicious but not dangerous. Three cops immediately confronted and grabbed him. Elijah tried to wiggle free, telling them he was just walking home and asking to be left alone. They forced him to the ground, threatening to use their dogs and Taser on him. At this point, all the cops’ bodycams fell into the grass; they would constantly remind each other not to retrieve them. One cop put Elijah in a chokehold, twice asphyxiating his brain to the point of vomiting, all while Elijah apologized to the cops, told them he loved them, and pleaded his innocence. Paramedics sedated him. He arrived at the hospital covered in bruises and having suffered two cardiac arrests from the sedative; he would be pronounced brain dead days later. No charges were filed against the cops.
Elijah’s last words are a testament to his commitment to peace.
I can’t breathe.
I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain.
That’s my house. I was just going home.
I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all.
I’m so sorry.
I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting.
Why are you attacking me?
I don’t even kill flies. I don’t eat meat.
But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat.
All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything.
Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. I’ll do it.
You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you.
Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini.
I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
Ow, that really hurt.
You are all very strong.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
* Elijah vomits *
Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that.
I just can’t breathe correctly.
Black lives matter.