How his family and a coalition are suing those involved with the wrongful police killing of Anton Black
Like any 19-year-old college student, Anton Black had dreams. His were big ones.
He was a former champion athlete at North Caroline High School. As his father, Antone Black, says, he was one of the fastest boys in the state. His father always loved to see his son run.
Anton had his whole life ahead of him and he was open to all the possibilities, from enlisting in the military to his dreams of pursuing modeling and acting. Some of his dreams were just beginning to come true. Anton got to model at New York Fashion Week and even modeled for designers from California, Washington D.C., and New York. Once he finally landed a movie role, he practiced his lines over and over again with his Dad as a sounding board.
But Anton never did get to star in his first movie. He was killed before that could happen.
“He was everything. He loved his family. He was a family boy,” said his mother, Jennell Black.
His older sister, LaToya Holley, describes Anton as a loving brother. She was looking forward to see him reach his 30s, because that would mean he could relate to his big sister more and they could hang out more often. That too was stolen from her and Anton.
Latoya fondly remembers that Anton was known for being great with kids. “The kids adored him,” said LaToya. “No matter how old or young they were. He would have been a great father.”
In fact, Anton was soon to become a father. But he was killed before he could meet his daughter, Winter, who was born a few months later.
“She will never ever get to feel her father hold her or hug her or kiss her or try to make her feel better if she’s not having a good day,” said La Toya. “All of those opportunities have been stolen from his daughter.”
Strong heart, strong body is how Anton’s father describes his son. “I just want everyone to know he was one of the best children that you could have,” said Antone.
All of Anton’s dreams and opportunities were cut short because of three white law enforcement officials and a white resident, wearing a Confederate motorcycle helmet and who had no business being involved at all. In the course of less than 30 minutes, on September 15, 2018, in Greensboro, a small town on the Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the three white police officers and the passing-by resident chased, tased, and pinned Anton, who was Black, down on his mother’s front porch.
Anton cried out, “Mommy, help!” Upon hearing her son, Jennell Black came outside. He told his mother, “I love you.” Jennell stood close by and repeatedly yelled her son’s name.
Anton Black had a slight frame, which officers and the white resident pressed down on. Their collective weight was on top of his face, chest, and stomach for six minutes as they slowly killed him. His mother looked into her son’s face and saw that he was turning dark. Katyra Boyce, the mother of Anton’s child, who was six months pregnant at the time, arrived to find that the father of her child was struggling for life.
His sister said, “Anton did not deserve what happened to him. He did not deserve to lose his life. They stole it from him. They lied and tried to blame him for what happened. He was the nicest, sweetest boy.”
In the end, the white men’s weight on Anton Black and the ways they restrained him caused him to die of positional asphyxiation. It is an eerily similar police killing to George Floyd’s.
Anton’s family and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black are suing those involved with his killing, demanding justice for these unconstitutional actions, for the cover-up of one officer’s long record of abuse against Black people, and for a conspiracy to dodge responsibility reaching into the State’s Medical Examiner Office.
In Maryland, Black residents only make up 30 percent of the population, but between the years of 2010 and 2014, they made up nearly 70 percent of the people who were killed by police. A follow up report in 2016 found that this number increased by 11 percent and showed that 100 percent of Marylanders who were unarmed and killed by police were Black.
The wrongful killing of Anton Black at the hands of police officers is part of a systematic pattern of police killing Black people. It cannot be allowed to continue.
That day, Anton Black was a teenager experiencing a mental health crisis. Anton was roughhousing with another boy, a family friend, and demonstrated symptoms of his bipolar disorder. Tragically, Officer Thomas Webster, a white police officer who had been forced out of policing in Delaware because of his violence against Black residents, was the officer who encountered the boys that day.
Instead of handling the situation appropriately, Officer Webster and the other men who became involved escalated it so dramatically that they ended up killing Anton on his mother’s front porch.
“No family should have to go through what we went through.”
Anton’s mother said, “No family should have to go through what we went through.”
To add to the brutality of this scene, as Anton was dying, officers began developing a false story about Anton being high on drugs and exhibiting “superhuman” strength, even though no drugs were found in his system. In another bizarre move, the Medical Examiner falsely claimed that Anton’s death was an accident, resulting from natural causes, and even claimed that Anton’s bipolar disorder, a psychiatric illness, was a “significant” contributing factor to his death – rather than the officers’ clear and unnecessary brutality.
However, the Black family and coalition are looking to hold police and other institutions that covered for the officers accountable to the fullest extent for their brutal killing of Anton. Their lawsuit is a glimmer of hope on the path to accountability.
“Today marks a day of hope."
“Today marks a day of hope,” said Richard Potter, member of the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. “Hope that accountability will be rendered. Hope that the community of Greensboro can start to heal. And most importantly, hope that the Black family can start to mend the broken link that was snatched from them that night in September 2018. Today, the pendulum of justice has moved just a little bit closer in the right direction."
Anton Black’s life mattered. To his family, he will always be a vibrant young spirit who had much to look forward to.
“He will never be forgotten,” LaToya said. “We will never allow anyone to forget who he is and we will always remain and be a testimony of his life.”