March 7th, 2018
Every day, approximately 3-4 American civilians are killed by law enforcement. This equates to approximately 1,400 people per year. Just last year, police killed 1,147 people in the U.S. There were only 14 days in 2017 where police did not kill someone according to Mapping Police Violence. The approximate number of people killed by police since 1988 is 28,000.
While these numbers are alarming, what's even more appalling is imagining the effects on families and communities directly impacted by these incidents. Since most use-of-force cases are ruled as justifiable homicides, families affected by police violence are ineligible to receive Victims of Crime compensation to assist in recovering from these traumatic events. Families are left with stacking costs such as burial expenses, medical bills and often suffer income and job loss while they are in need of trauma and grief counseling.
As if losing a loved one isn’t enough, families also suffer from the criminalization of their loved one in the media, alienation within their communities, and are left in the dark on how to navigate their loved one’s case through the criminal justice system. Over time, families develop stress-related illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, stroke, ulcer, cognitive impairment, autoimmune disorders, accelerated aging, cancer, heart disease, and death. Victims’ families are in dire need of advocacy, monetary support, adequate healthcare and counseling.
On May 2017 American Journal of Public Health published Police Brutality and Black Health: Setting the Agenda for Public Health Scholars. The article states that public health scholars should champion efforts to implement surveillance of police violence incidents and press funders to support research to understand the experiences of peoples impacted by police brutality. We must ask whether our own research, teaching, and services are intentionally anti-racist and challenge the institutions we work for to ask the same. To reduce racial health inequities, public health scholars must rigorously explore the relationship between police brutality and health, and advocate policies that address systemic oppression.
We, Families United 4 Justice (FU4J), are a growing nationwide collective of families impacted by police violence. Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson, uncle of police murder victim, Oscar Grant of Oakland California, co-founded the California chapter of FU4J in 2013, and the late Cynthia Howell, niece of police murder victim, Alberta Spruill of Harlem, New York, co-founded the New York chapter in 2014. Cynthia Howell and Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson were featured panelists at a Forced Trajectory Project presentation at the Allied Media Conference in 2015, and the collaboration to create a joint national Families United 4 Justice network began.
This collaboration led us to organize our first FU4J National Network Gathering Conference that took place at the Allied Media Conference hosted by Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan last June. With our hard work and the support of our vast community that stretches farther than the nation’s borders, we successfully raised enough donations and supported 50 family members impacted by police murder to attend; paying for their registration, travel, room & board, and food.
At our first self-organized National Network Gathering, we were joined by concerned citizens, community organizers, artists, legal services professionals, mental health care professionals and alternative healers, to collectively contribute to the discussion. Our experience was so fruitful that we have decided to expand our growth and network, and continue in the tradition of convening annually. This year we will be hosting our 2nd National Network Gathering Conference in Oakland, California, on June 27th-July 1st. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to subsidize 50 family members impacted by police murder to partake, paying for their registration, travel, room and board, and food.
We are asking you, our friend and supporter, to sponsor us by donating to our campaign.
Your donation will ensure that we, those most impacted by police violence, can play an integral role in the discussion around assessing and fulfilling our needs while brainstorming collectively our paths to justice. This gathering will have long-term, nationwide and cultural implications that willi impact how our communities and institutions approach victims of state-sanctioned violence.
Families directly impacted by police violence at the June 2017 Network Gathering Conference share their profound experience at the conference here:
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Families United 4 Justice