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Race & Demographics

After Chauvin Conviction, Raleigh Advocate Still Feels Sorrow For Black Men Seeking Justice

Betty Johnson (left) is the mother of Curtis Mangum, who died in police custody three years ago. Kimberly Muktarian (right) is the president of the Raleigh-based Save Our Sons.
Leoneda Inge
/
WUNC
Betty Johnson (left) is the mother of Curtis Mangum, who died in police custody three years ago. Kimberly Muktarian (right) is the president of the Raleigh-based Save Our Sons.

Many people across the country and in North Carolina shouted with elation when a court found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

A family rights advocate in Raleigh says her cheers quickly turned to sorrow thinking about all of the other Black men who still don’t have justice.

Kimberly Muktarian says she didn’t know how to feel when she heard the guilty verdict, that the former white police officer who killed George Floyd, a Black man, would be going to jail.

“When the verdict came in, I of course was happy,” said Muktarian. “But there was still a residue of waiting for someone to say, ‘gotcha,’ or 'we were just playing.'”

Muktarian says in her line of work, there is rarely good news. She is the President of "Save Our Sons," an organization that comes to the rescue of Black men and boys caught up in the criminal justice system. She started her fight in 2007, when her brother was sentenced to time in federal prison.

Today, the man Muktarian is still fighting for is Curtis Mangum. The 32-year-old died in police custody three years ago, arrested on suspicion of drugs. Muktarian says she believes Raleigh police were aware Mangum swallowed drugs to conceal it. But she says police still took him in handcuffs to the precinct instead of to the hospital. He died soon after.

“They failed to provide medical assistance in a timely fashion, very similar of that of George Floyd,” said Muktarian. “Today we are asking the United States Department of Justice to review his case again. His family is ready for closure and they are also ready for justice.”

 Betty Johnson and her family outside of her apartment in Raleigh. She is the mother of Curtis Mangum, who died in police custody three years ago.
Leoneda Inge
Betty Johnson and her family outside of her apartment in Raleigh. She is the mother of Curtis Mangum, who died in police custody three years ago.

Betty Johnson is Mangum’s mother. She says every time she hears of another Black man dying at the hands of police, it brings back memories of her son.

Johnson says she hopes the verdict in the Chauvin case rings true for her family someday.

“I hope we get the same verdict for my son too, when the case open back up and we go forward with it," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Mangum’s 18-year-old daughter, Zanyah Mangum, says she didn’t spend a lot of time marching and protesting the deaths of her father or George Floyd. She doesn’t know what to hope for these days.

“You know, I hope for justice,” said Zanyah Mangum. “But nothing is going to bring my daddy back.”

The Wake County District Attorney closed the case. No charges were filed against the police officers who were with Mangum when he died.

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