Only justice can ease the pain
Many families have lost loved ones to police violence. Many times their voices go unheard. Of the hundreds of families experiencing such losses, a handful get to tell their stories to the world. Their passionate protests, court appointments and demands for justice may then get lost amongst the protests of the people. Community voices sometimes take precedence over the voices of the actual family members.
Protests, phone calls and hashtags that honor victims soon fade away, leaving family members with only memories and frustrations with police departments, government agencies, and the criminal justice systems.
To give these families support, agencies including MN Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, the Justice Squad, and other groupings of families and anti-police violence organizations from around the country came together under the umbrella of Take A Knee Nation. The “National March for Mothers” held July 11-12 provided workshops to help families and community members heal from the trauma that comes with police violence.
Saturday’s events consisted of an early morning press conference followed by a welcome from Olivia House, who stressed the importance of listening to the voices of women of color, especially Black women. Fazayah Augusta spoke on “ways to deal with stress and trauma.” Four workshops helped attendees learn ways of coping, organizing, telling their stories, and understanding the history and role of the police.
One workshop was presented by Sisters of the Movement, an organization founded by the sisters of people who have died at the hands of police: Allisa Findley (for Botham Jean), Amber and Ashley Carr (for Atatiana Jefferson), and Victoria Davis (for Delrawn Small).
K.C. Fox, a social activist and crisis strategist, was also present to support the sisters. Unable to attend were Tiffany Crutcher (Terrance Crutcher), Shante Needham (Sandra Bland), and Natasha Duncan (Shantel Davis).
Ashley Carr, sister of Atatiana Jefferson, told attendees, “A lot of people are just in this movement for the fame. They just want attention on themselves. Some of the people who claim to support us have never even contacted us.
“If you really want to help… contact the families. Wait about a month and then contact the families,” Carr said. “Even if you do not get a response right away, contact the families.”
Her sister Amber (who is 11 months older than Jefferson) added, “Because the phone calls do stop.” Findley chimed in, “But the pain never ends.”
Angelique Negroni-Kearse, wife of Andrew Kearse, spoke passionately about her experiences after her husband died from a heart attack while pleading for help in the back of a Schenectady, New York, police car.
“I miss my husband,” she said. “I miss him being a father to our children. I miss the one person that I knew would always be there for me.”
Negroni-Kearse succeeded in getting the Andrew Kearse Act passed by Congress. It will hold police officers in New York accountable for denying medical care to people in police custody.
Saturday’s events convened with a dinner featuring the tastes of Minnesota, a discussion of the groups’ demands, and concluding resolutions from the panelists. Attendees were also able to visit the South Minneapolis site honoring victims of police violence.
Sunday’s activities featured breakfast for community members and a march to the Minnesota State Capital from Dale and University Ave. in St. Paul, which honored all the victims and families affected by police violence.
Sisters of the Movement welcomes volunteers and membership donations. Contact them at www.sistersofthemovement.org.
Brandi Phillips is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.