+
upworthy
Top Splash

​Elijah McClain played violin for lonely kittens. His last words to police are devastating.

​Elijah McClain played violin for lonely kittens. His last words to police are devastating.

Elijah McClain was a massage therapist who played violin for shelter kittens on his lunch break in his hometown of Aurora, Colorado, because he thought the animals were lonely. If that detail alone doesn't conjure up a picture of a gentle soul, Colorado Music described McClain as a young man who was "quirky, a pacifist, a vegetarian, enjoyed running, and known to put a smile on everyone's face."

According to The Cut, McClain's sister says he sometimes wore a ski/runner's mask because he was anemic and would often get cold. One night last August, he was walking home from the convenience store with his mask on when the police approached him, responding to a call about "a suspicious man" in the area. What ensued was "a struggle" according to police, which was only partially caught on body camera, as all of the officers' body cameras allegedly fell off during the incident.


McClain was held in a carotid hold, a controversial restraint technique banned in some cities for its potential danger, and was also given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died there three days later, after having been declared brain dead.

He was unarmed. He was only 23. And his last words as the officers held him down are heartbreaking.

Unknown

The full body camera footage of the entire evening's events was posted on YouTube by the Aurora Police Department in November, three months after McClain's death. (Discretion is advised.)

Body Worn Camera Regarding the In-Custody Death of Elijah McClainwww.youtube.com

After the body camera footage was released, according to the Sentinel, District Attorney Dave Young sent a letter to Aurora police chief Nick Metz stating, "Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Therefore, no state criminal charges will be filed as a result of this incident."

The officers were cleared of all wrongdoing.

However, the public outcry over the case has grown into a tsunami of calls for accountability. More than 2.2 million people have signed a Change.org petition calling for a more in-depth investigation into McClain's death.

On June 9, City Manager Jim Twombly agreed to an independent investigation of McClain's death. But even that investigation has hit snags, as the initial attorney commissioned to lead the investigation was a former police officer who specialized in defending police departments in liability cases.

"Unfortunately, an attorney with a long career in law enforcement that specializes in defending municipal police departments from liability claims doesn't qualify, in our minds, as a neutral review," the Aurora city council said in a statement.

Some policy changes have taken effect in Aurora this month. According to CBS Local in Denver, Interim Police Chief Vanessa Wilson has announced that officers can no longer use the carotid hold, they must give warnings before shooting, must intervene if they see an offer using excessive force, and relieve other officers when a use-of-force incident occurs. They will also be trained to not assume a person is suspicious based off of a 911 call.

Victims of police brutality don't need to be angels. What's wrong is wrong. But when a demonstrably tender and sweet soul like Elijah McClain is killed from a police encounter and no wrongdoing is found, it's long past time to examine the rules that govern the entire system. No one in their right mind can say this young man shouldn't be alive right now, playing violin for lonely kittens on his lunch hour.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

Keep ReadingShow less
Heroes

This quick-thinking teen cleverly befriended a woman's kidnapper to rescue her

Malyk Bonnet did a very brave thing: He listened to his gut.


You've probably been there. You're out and about and you see something that just feels ... off.

"Should I step in? ... But it's not really any of my business. ... And I'm not even sure they need my help..."

Keep ReadingShow less

A mother confronts her daughter for judging her friend's weight.

A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.

For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.

“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This mom's empowering selfies show off life with an invisible illness.

She's reclaiming her confidence and sharing what it can really mean to be a mom with Crohn's disease.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

Krystal, Arabella, and Lukas.


There are a lot of hard things about living with Crohn's disease. Not being able to talk about it might be the worst one.

Imagine being constantly tired, but in a way that even 15 hours of sleep a day can't cure. Imagine going to dinner, but every time you eat something as simple as a roll of warm bread, it feels like it might've had broken glass inside of it.

Then, it's time to go to the bathroom. Again. Is that the fifth time this hour or the sixth? You've lost track. It's a running joke now — your friends think it's funny, but nobody really talks about what happens when you step away. Because, really, you look fine. Just tired.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

A school assignment asked for 3 benefits of slavery. This kid gave the only good answer.

The school assignment was intended to spark debate and discussion — but isn't that part of the problem?

A school assignment asked for 3 "good" reasons for slavery.



It's not uncommon for parents to puzzle over their kids' homework.

Sometimes, it's just been too long since they've done long division for them to be of any help. Or teaching methods have just changed too dramatically since they were in school.

And other times, kids bring home something truly inexplicable.
Keep ReadingShow less




As much as we'd like to pretend every phrase we utter is a lone star suspended in the space of our own genius, all language has a history. Unfortunately, given humanity's aptitude for treating each other like shit, etymology is fraught with reminders of our very racist world.

Since I have faith that most of you reading want to navigate the world with intelligence and empathy, I figured it'd be useful to share some of the everyday phrases rooted in racist etymology.

Knowledge is power, and the way we use and contextualize our words can make a huge difference in the atmospheres we create.

Keep ReadingShow less