Voices of Grief and Struggle: Mothers Who Lost Children to Police Brutality
December 9, 2014 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from grieving mothers who have lost children to police brutality. What police reforms do they want to see? What actions do they want us to take? These mothers are coming from around the country–including California, Texas, New York and Maryland–to meet with Congress, the Department of Justice and the White House. This is their only public event. Join us to hear their stories of personal loss, and learn about the inspiring work they are doing to demand accountability.
VALERIE BELL is the mother of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old unarmed man killed on his wedding day, November 25, 2006, in a barrage of 50 shots fired into his car by New York plainclothes police officers. The officers thought his friend had a gun. The detectives involved in the shooting were acquitted, and the Bell family was awarded a settlement by the city of New York. Valerie Bell is the founder of Mothers of Never Again (MONA).
JERALYNN BLUFORD from Oakland, California has organized a group of mothers known as Helping Hearts to Heal. Her 18-year-old son Alan Blueford was shot to death in East Oakland by a city police officer on May 6, 2012. Blueford has since been active in Bay Area rallies against police brutality.
DARLENE CAIN is a mother from from Baltimore, Maryland. On October 28, 2008, her 29-year-old son Dale Graham was killed by a Baltimore City police officer. Since then she has been dedicated to lifting the voices of those who have had a family member killed by the police fbut were never given true justice and closure. She is is President and founder of MOTHERS ON THE MOVE.
DANETTE CHAVIS from New York, New York, lost her 19-year-old son in October 2004. After being shot in a gunfire exchange (not with police), Gregory Chavis died just a block from Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx when police prevented him from receiving any medical treatment. Chavis has been active at demonstrations, is the head of National Action Against Police Brutality, and has launched a petition demanding justice for her son that has over 16,000 signatures.
COLLETTE FLANNIGAN from Dallas, Texas, lost her only son when he was 25 years old on March 10, 2013. Clinton Allen was unarmed and shot by a Dallas policeman, who has never been charged with any crime and remains an active duty officer. Flannigan is founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, which lobbies for change in police enforcement practices and accountability measures.
MARCELLA HOLLOMAN’s son Maurice Donald Johnson was murdered by Baltimore police on May 21, 2012. The police were called when her mentally ill son began to exhibit erratic behavior at a children’s gathering. Since Johnson’s episodic illness was registered in the police data base, Holloman expected they would take him to the hospital for treatment. Instead of waiting for an ambulance, the two responding officers entered Holloman’s home where Johnson was sequestered and shot him three times. Since then, his mother has been active and outspoken against police brutality.
WANDA JOHNSON’s son Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by transit Police Officer Johannes Mehserle at a train station in Oakland, California. Initially charged with second-degree murder, Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Since the death of her son, Johnson has been active on the Board of Directors of the Oscar Grant Foundation, a resource for at-risk youth of all races who wish to turn their lives around in a positive way. A gospel minister and nation speaker, Johnson has made guest appearances on nationally syndicated television programs, universities and public forums to bring attention to injustices in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
CONSTANCE MALCOLM is the mother of Ramarley Graham, who was 18 years old in 2012 when a New York police officer shot and killed him in his own home. Graham was suspected of carrying a gun in public, but no gun was found on him, in the bathroom he was shot in, or anywhere else in the house. Graham’s 6-year-old brother and his grandmother witnessed the shooting. Constance Malcolm has since been a vocal advocate against police brutality and has been seeking justice for her son.
TRESSA SHERROD is the mother of John Crawford III, a twenty-two year old who was shot and killed on August 5, 2014 by police in a Walmart in Ohio. A caller phoned police, accusing Crawford of brandishing a gun, when it was really an unloaded BB air rifle on a shelf, an item that is sold in the store. Surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller’s account and what really happened. An Ohio grand jury decided not to indict the officer who was responsible for Crawford’s death, and since then his mother has been pursuing justice.