Called to Deeply Listen to Those Impacted by Police Violence
Hearing families who have been impacted by police violence speak is always a transformative and powerful experience for me. While I have been working with impacted families since 2009, the novelty remains as if I am hearing them for the first time. However, inviting audiences to listen to impacted families is a difficult endeavor that I have struggled with for nearly a decade.
I first entered this work photographing for a community paper in 2009 and was assigned to photograph a woman who had lost her son’s father in a brutal police interaction. The assignment left me with a plethora of questions like, why wasn’t this case highlighted in the mainstream media, and what will happen to this family as a result of this man’s violent death? I launched the Forced Trajectory Project shortly after which serves as a storytelling platform for families impacted by police violence, and has now expanded into a media outlet for these stories and other policing issues.
From August 24 – 26, my Forced Trajectory Project team members and I traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the Left Coast Forum hosted at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in Downtown LA. Last year I was invited to be on a panel with Black Lives Matter – LA’s Dr. Melina Abdullah called, “Confronting the assault on Communities of Color in the age of Trumpism,” organized by Love Not Blood Campaign, a non-profit organization founded by the uncle of Oscar Grant, Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson, and his wife, community organizer and family advocate, Beatrice X “Aunt B” Johnson, that advocates for families impacted by homicide.
In their second year, I noticed right away that the conference had grown exponentially in attendance. The Left Forum is originally a conference held in New York where various streams of organizers come together to discuss the struggles that are pressing across our communities: labor rights, the aftermath of war and natural disaster, climate change, immigrant, civil and human rights, the school to prison pipeline, food justice, mass incarceration, and police brutality.