My name is Scott Roberts, and this is my third day as Criminal Justice Director at ColorOfChange. For months, I have admired the hard work of ColorOfChange members like you and I am honored to be joining this critical community of people committed to achieving Black liberation — especially at a time like this.
In the past 6 months, police have killed at least 234 Black people nationwide — an average of more than 1 person a day. 1
It’s a painfully familiar story:
Police — driven by explicit or implicit anti-Black racism — brutalize or kill a Black person who is doing nothing more than shopping at the grocery store, driving home from work, playing in the park or reaching out for help;2,3,4,5 Law enforcement and police associations then criminalize the victim, often lying, filing false police reports or planting evidence to cover up the truth.6 The media jumps on board, but within just a few days or weeks journalists stop covering the story; the community and family are left brokenhearted, fighting a near impossible fight for justice, which is almost always denied.7
We must stop this vicious cycle. As we know from past experiences, police cannot police themselves. Prosecutors rely greatly on police for help with their cases, which makes it far less likely they will risk the political fallout that comes with holding abusive and discriminatory officers accountable. If we want justice, we need to be ready to take matters into our own hands.
Will you donate $5 a month to our Rapid Response Private Investigator Fund? If enough people contribute, we can put independent investigators on the ground following police violence targeting Black people to help expose the truth and build momentum for justice.
Following Sandra Bland’s tragic death in Waller County, TX you and more than 3,000 ColorOfChange members donated to hire a private investigator. It was clear from day one that Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis and Sheriff Glenn Smith would likely fail to properly investigate Sandra's death. If her family hadn't raised their voices, the public would've never seen the video of Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia racially profiling and violently arresting Sandra — DA Mathis was ready to wash his hands and rule Sandra's death a suicide, no questions asked.
Part 1 of our investigation was released last week, and the results are deeply disturbing. Attorney Paul Looney, who was appointed by the Sheriff to lead an investigation into the Sheriff Department, has confirmed that the investigation is a sham: "We're not trying to do an exposé...[Sheriff Glenn Smith] can read it or not read it...if he wants to throw the whole thing in the trash can, he can.’"8
This is exactly the type of information we need to help secure justice for Sandra. Following cases of police violence, local officials often wait for the media attention to fade away before denying justice to Black families suffering one of the worst injustices this world has to offer. But we can't let that happen. A Rapid Response Private Investigator Fund will allow us to uncover the truth, keep the media attention alive and expose the different forms of anti-Black racism in an area in order to plan campaigns for systemic change.
Tragically, police will kill hundreds more Black people in the coming months and we must be ready to act quickly. This fall marks 10 years that ColorOfChange members have taken action to strengthen and amplify Black political power in America. In the coming days, you will receive a number of different fundraisers asking you to support the critical work of our community in the years ahead. We depend on you. Your donations — the hard-earned dollars you give because you believe in justice — are what sustain our work.
Private investigators cost on average $5,000. If just 3,000 ColorOfChange members gave $5 a month for at least 6 months we could afford to hire at least 15 private investigators. Click here to donate.
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 30th, 2015
September 30th, 2015
1. "National Police Violence Map," We the Protesters, updated 9/21/2015
2. "No Charges in Ohio Police Killing of John Crawford as Wal-Mart Video Contradicts 911 Caller Account," Democracy Now! 9-25-2015
3. "‘I will light you up!': Texas officer threatened Sandra Bland with Taser during traffic stop," Washington Post 7-22-2015
4. "As investigation enters fifth month, Tamir Rice’s mother has moved into a homeless shelter," Washington Post 05-04-2015
5. "'Black women unnamed': how Tanisha Anderson's bad day turned into her last," The Guardian 06-05-2015
6. "Walter Scott, Michael Slager, Taser planted?" Slate 04-07-2015
7. "Thousands dead, few prosecuted," Washington Post 04-11-2015
8. "The Sandra Bland Investigation Is In Trouble," Huffington Post 9-24-2015