Toolkit Resource Book

What is this workbook?

This workbook you hold in your hands will be the future toolkit that will be made available to individuals and communities who have lost loved ones to police violence.  You and everyone else at the Families United 4 Justice Network Gathering will collectively author this powerful, revolutionary anthology that will inform families and communities who tragically find themselves on the same path you walk.  We are so grateful that you can join us in this transformative collaboration.  


The workbook is divided into several sections by chapters and subsections.  Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to participate in multiple workshops where the facilitator will address a portion of the workbook.  While you alone will probably not complete the entire workbook, you are more than welcome to complete it on your own time and submit your responses to our Toolkit Team:



Families Affected by Police Violence Workbook


Name:  _____________________


What is this workbook?

This workbook you hold in your hands will be the future toolkit that will be made available to individuals and communities who have lost loved ones to police violence.  You and everyone else at the Families United 4 Justice Network Gathering will collectively author this powerful, revolutionary anthology that will inform families and communities who tragically find themselves on the same path you walk.  We are so grateful that you can join us in this transformative collaboration.  


The workbook is divided into several sections by chapters and subsections.  Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to participate in multiple workshops where the facilitator will address a portion of the workbook.  While you alone will probably not complete the entire workbook, you are more than welcome to complete it on your own time and submit your responses to our Toolkit Team:


Privacy & Consent

Your privacy concerns and consent are important to us.  If you wish to keep all your responses anonymous we will do so.  Also, this toolkit is on a volunteer basis, so it is up to you if you want to participate.  While having more people involved will strengthen the toolkit we understand that you may not want to spend your time filling out surveys and answering questions.  You are welcome to participate in all of the activities of the day without having to fill anything out and take your copy of the toolkit with you for future reference, but please let someone in the FU4J NG (Network Gathering) Committee know if this is what you plan to do.   


The FU4J NG Committee is:

Cephus “Uncle Bobby” X Johnson      (510) 706-7558

Vanissa “Nissa” Chan    (336) 447-5810

Jasmine Graves    (626) 676-5548

Allen Frimpong     (908) 227-5804

Yolanda McNair (313) 659-8930










This workbook was a collaborative effort between:

Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Uncle of Oscar Grant

Yolanda McNair, Mother of Adaisha Miller

Vanissa W. Chan

Karintha Tervalon

Oja Vincent

in June of 2017

Consent Form


I, _________________________________, consent to the utilization of my responses for the creation of the Families United 4 Justice (FU4J) Toolkit which will be published and made available in multiple forms including digital, web, and print, for the purpose of informing those directly impacted by police violence and the community.  



Anonymous vs. Not Anonymous

Publishing your biographical information including your loved one’s name and case may provide vital context for readers and assist in understanding the scope of police violence.  While not every response will be linked to your name and case, we envision that this toolkit will humanize and personalize your experience for our readers and being able to refer to you and your case will support this endeavor.  Please keep this in mind as you mark your next responses.  


___ I approve for my responses to be linked to my biographical information including my name, my loved one’s name and case, city and state.  


___ I prefer that all my responses be made anonymous.




x_______________________________ ____________________

Name Date


Table of Contents


Dedication  5 Introduction  6

Families United 4 Justice  6

How FU4J Organizes For Collective Power 10

Allied Media Project’s Network Principles 11

Chapter 1: Biographical Sketch 13

& Questions to Ask Immediately Following Incident

Chapter 2: Addressing the Shock 18

Chapter 3: How to Deal with the Media 23

Chapter 4: Archiving & Documenting The Process 27

Chapter 5: Personal Investigation 30

Chapter 6: Autopsy Report 32

Chapter 7: Where to Get Legal Help 34

Chapter 8: Funeral Assistance 36

Chapter 9: Court Cases 37

Chapter 10: Police Intimidation 39

Chapter 11: Community Organizations 41

Chapter 12: Trauma 43

Chapter 13:  History of Police Violence in the United States 46

Chapter 14: Self-Care 56

Chapter 15: Alternative Healing Methods 58

Chapter 16: Resource List 59







Cynthia “Moses” Ruth Howell

December 12th, 1963-May 21st, 2017


This workbook and future toolkit is dedicated to the late Cynthia Howell, the niece of police violence victim, Alberta Spruill, and Founder & Point-of-Contact for Families United 4 Justice (FU4J).  Cynthia worked tirelessly to connect families, serving as an advocate and confidante to many family members.  Cynthia’s vision was for all families to unite and build power collectively to achieve justice and reparations for all victims and their families.  It is our hope that we continue this work with the same fiery passion as our sister Cynthia.  




For generations the Black community along with the Native American, Mexican, and immigrant and working class communities has been plagued by state-sanctioned violence in the form of bounty hunters, slave catchers, militia, the police and other law enforcement agencies.  If one were to understand fully the history of police violence in the United States,  one would have to go back to the founding of the United States. The truth is that United States was founded on racism. Many examples worthy of in-depth study include: slavery, Indian Removal, Black codes, Jim Crow, the KKK, and the prevalent, infamous culture of lynching celebrated and practiced by white communities across the nation.  


As people, we are not lacking in testimonies of the racism, violence, hate that persists through the institution of policing.  When police violence abruptly arrives at our front door, most of us, if not all, find ourselves caught in the trauma of losing our loved ones in this most violent and unjust way, lacking clarity on what to do next.


One of our main objectives for the materialization of this toolkit is to address this directly through sourcing the knowledge, wisdom and experience of families affected by police violence so that future families can be informed on how to best advocate for themselves.



Families United 4 Justice (FU4J)

In 2011, the National Coordinator of October 22nd Coalition, the longest-running anti-police brutality organization in the US, Monica Shay, was brutally gunned down along with other members of her family in a mass shooting over Independence Day weekend.  Monica was an incredibly powerful and loyal advocate for families affected by police violence in New York and across the nation, and her death severely interrupted the advocacy work being done to service and support families.  For years, along with the Anthony Baez Foundation and National Lawyer’s Guild, she spearheaded the Stolen Lives Project (, an archival project documenting thousands of police violence cases across the nation.  The youth of October 22nd Coalition scrambled to re-organize the organization and delegate tasks but their efforts were ineffective.  For the first time in years, active family members reported there was no longer an organizing space for them.  


In 2013, Niece of police violence victim Alberta Spruill (killed by NYPD in Harlem, NY, May 16, 2003), Cynthia Howell, attended an October 22nd Coalition event in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she was not acknowledged as a family member of a police violence victim.  When she brought this up to the organizers, they responded with, “police brutality affects everyone, not just family members.”  Enraged, she decided it was time to create a safe organizing space for families where they can organize collectively while comforting each other.  In the Fall of 2014, with the aid of long-time family advocate, Vanissa W. Chan, Cynthia called for Families United 4 Justice’s initial meetings at the May Day Space, a convergence space for activists in Brooklyn, New York.  The name Families United 4 Justice (FU4J) was decided upon democratically by several family members present at these meetings.  


Knowing that Cephus “Uncle Bobby” X Johnson, the Uncle of police violence victim, Oscar Grant, had been actively connecting and organizing with families on the West Coast, FU4J reached out to him to discuss the potential of expanding FU4J nationally.  In October, 2014, Uncle Bobby called into one of the first meetings where we discussed establishing and expanding FU4J.


Uncle Bobby, Cynthia Howell, and Martinez Sutton, brother of police violence victim Rekia Boyd of Chicago, at MacGregor Hall, Wayne State University, Allied Media Conference, June, 2015.  All three served on a panel called, “Organizing with Families Affected by Police Violence,” organized by Vanissa W. Chan, Project Founder of the Forced Trajectory Project.


Like Cynthia, Uncle Bobby was enraged that there was no real and sustainable support system for impacted families.  He launched the Families United for Justice Campaign. He would wear his Families United for Justice t-shirt to many family campaigns speaking about uniting families. Uniting families became his mission.


On October 25, 2014, at the Eastside Art Alliance in Oakland California, Uncle Bobby and his wife Beatrice X, under their organization, Love Not Blood Campaign, held one of many campaigns to unite families from different parts of the country. Thus cumulating to this historic Families United 4 Justice Network Gathering, the largest convening of families affected by police violence ever, organized FOR families BY families.


Uncle Bobby, Anthony Shalid, and Michael Brown, SR., in Ferguson, MO, August, 2015.


Our collective vision is to build a united nationwide movement of families affected by police violence and seize the front line of the anti-police brutality movement.  It is also a part of our vision to build this toolkit to serve as a resource to families affected by police violence, and distribute it nationwide.  


“Collective” means everyone, and that means your input matters too.  What do you envision as being a part of our collective vision as Families United 4 Justice?






How FU4J Organizes for Collective Power

FU4J utilizes the principles of social democracy to organize for collective power.  This is to ensure that everyone in the collective holds an equal amount of power rather than a few.  Roles and responsibilities are to be rotated periodically to ensure that 1) power is decentralized, 2) members gain the experience of different roles and responsibilities, and 3) members are equipped to fill in for others if a role or responsibility is vacant, 4) the work is sustainable over time.  This way of organizing encourages transparency while cultivating the way of true democracy where everyone involved has a voice and holds an equal amount of power.


FU4J does not offer membership to individuals who have not lost a loved one to police violence (the definition of police violence may need to be revisited and redefined, but in the moment it includes cases of police murder, incidents where a loved one has died at the hands of the police or in police custody, and incidents where an investigation is obstructed by police cover up and corruption).  Due to many experiences of exploitation in the past, FU4J is an exclusive organization for those directly impacted by police murder.  Those outside can serve as allies but do not have the ability to vote or make decisions.  Don’t let this discourage you from building with non-family members.  Build with them, and then put them to work.

There is still a lot of work to be done in order to build out FU4J and its leadership.  This Network Gathering is an opportunity for families to envision collectively what will be the future of FU4J.  For example, a list of core values can be conceived.  


To support this process of arriving to our collective intention here is a list of Allied Media Project’s Network Principles that they have developed over the years.  These Network Principles are, “embedded into every conference organizing cycle..which Allied Media Projects have distilled from [their] network after years of listening.”  


Allied Media Project’s Network Principles

    1. We are making an honest attempt to solve the most significant problems of our day.
    2. We are building a network of people and projects that are developing long-term solutions based on the immediate confrontation of our most pressing problems.
    3. Wherever there is a problem, there are already people acting on the problem in some fashion.  Understanding those actions is the starting point for developing effective strategies to resolve the problem, so we focus on the solutions, not the problems.
    4. We emphasize our own power and legitimacy.
    5. We presume our power, not our powerlessness.
    6. We spend more time building than attacking.
    7. We focus on strategies rather than issues.
    8. The strongest solutions happen through the process, not in a moment at the end of the process.
    9. The most effective strategies for us are the ones that work in situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression because those solutions tend to be the most holistic and sustainable.
    10. Place is important.  For the AMC, Detroit is important as a source of innovative, collaborative, low-resource solutions.  Detroit gives the conference a sense of place, just as each of the conference participants bring their own sense of place with them to the conference.
    11. We encourage people to engage with their whole selves, not just with one part of their identity.


  • We begin by listening.


What Principles or Core Values do you envision for Families United 4 Justice?















CHAPTER 1:  Biographical Sketch & QUESTIONS



In this chapter you will review your loved one’s case and the initial moments you experienced following the incident of what happened to your loved one.  Please take some time to fill out this important biographical information.


Biographical Sketch


My loved one’s name is:  _________________________________


My relationship to my loved one is:  _________________________


My loved one’s information:


Age:  _____ Gender:  ______ Date of Birth:  _________


Place of Birth:  __________________   Occupation:  ____________


Place of Residence: ____________________ Height:  ______


Weight:  ______ (estimations are fine)   US Citizen (Y/N):_______


If not the US, what country are they a citizen of:  _____________________


Marital Status:  ________________   Number of children:  _________


Date of the incident:  __________________


Place of incident:  ______________________


Officer(s) involved: __________________________________________


Police Department involved:  __________________________________


Other institutions involved (if applicable):  ________________________


List any official documents made about the incident (i.e., police report, incident reports):  ____________________________________________




Date of the autopsy report: ___________________________  


Official ruling by the Coroner’s office: ____________________________


Coroner’s name:  ___________________________


Was there an independent autopsy done?  ___________________


If so, who handled it and when was it done?  


Name:  ______________________  Date: ______________________


Official ruling of Independent Autopsy (if applicable):  






The time between someone being killed by police and when the victim’s family members are notified is one of the most critical moments of a police violence case.  Did police follow proper protocol in dealing with the family?  Were their witnesses?  Is there media?  Has any evidence been corrupted?  It is all too often that families come to realize how important these moments are too late.  Your responses will help us understand what your experience was and assist in recognizing any patterns that might exist between the involved institutions.   



Please brainstorm and respond to the following questions:


How did you first hear about the incident?






Did you receive any messages or contact from the police?  If so, please share:






What is the police department’s official story?  Did it change?






What were the initial media reports (and subsequent)?






Were there witnesses?  Were you able to receive any witness testimonies?  If so, what did they report?






Is there any media (photos, video, audio) of the actual incident?  Has it been made available to you?  






Where were you when the incident occurred?  






Were you able to access the scene of the incident?  What did you see?  What did you hear?  






Can you recall anything out of the ordinary?


Additional notes/comments related to this line of questioning:



























In this chapter we will discuss addressing the initial shock right after one has discovered their loved one has lost their life during a police-interaction.  We will address trauma more specifically in Chapter 12.  


The shock and trauma of losing a loved one to police violence is devastating, and family members find themselves in the most vulnerable state while having to make important decisions that will affect their loved one’s case.  What advice would you give to a family who has just found out they have lost their loved one in this way?



Give yourself a moment to process everything at that time.

Remember to breathe, a lot.  Take long, consecutive, deep breaths.

Acknowledge that you are in shock and will be for some time.

Be patient and gentle to yourself and your loved ones.

Keep your suspicions to yourself, especially when interacting with the police and/or media.

Stay in the moment and be aware as things settle.

Do not go to the police by yourself.

Surround yourself with trusted and supportive friends that are non-family.  Being with family is important but being with close friends outside of the family will support you in staying grounded as much as possible.

Allow yourself to feel how you feel.

Keep a journal so that you can write out any thoughts you may have.  Be sure to date your entries so that you can refer back to them later.  It may seem disorganized but you will have time to make sense of it later.  

Pay attention to the needs of your body – eat, sleep, stay hydrated.


Add your own advice:













Am I and/or my loved one in shock?  

Identifying and addressing psychological and physiological shock

Victims of trauma can experience various kinds of shock.  Psychological shock is different from the medical term of physical shock.  In the case of physical shock, the person may need to seek immediate medical attention.


Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing these following symptoms of stress:  

  • Thoughts about harming others
  • Thoughts about harming yourself
  • Chest pain
  • Fluttering or rapid heartbeats
  • Headaches unlike your usual headaches
  • Any condition that you feel might cause you serious harm if not treated immediately
  • Difficult breathing or hyperventilating
  • Extreme fatigue or feeling unusual numbness
  • Feeling very confused and/or difficulty organizing & remembering

Psychological shock, also known as Acute Stress Reaction (also known as Acute Stress Disorder, ASD), is defined by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders (DSM) as: a psychological condition arising in response to a terrifying or traumatic event, or witnessing a traumatic event that induces a strong emotional response within the individual.  


Often times individuals with ASD will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Seeking mental health care may be advised, but due to accessibility, it may also be a challenge to find effective counselors who are experienced in dealing with families impacted by police violence.  Source your community for support and don’t give up if you have a bad experience.  Not all mental health care services are the same and it may take some time before you find the appropriate professional help.  


From Wikipedia:

The DSM-IV specifies that ASD must be accompanied by the presence of dissociative symptoms, which largely differentiates it from PTSD.

Dissociative symptoms include a sense of numbing or detachment from emotional reactions, a sense of physical detachment, such as seeing oneself from another perspective, decreased awareness of one’s surroundings, the perception that one’s environment is unreal or dreamlike, and the inability to recall critical aspects of the traumatic event (dissociative amnesia).

In addition to the characteristic dissociative symptoms, ASD shares many of the symptoms with PTSD, including:

  • the experience or witnessing of a threatening event that resulted in intense fear or horror
  • the re-experiencing of the event by means of flashbacks, recurrent thoughts or dreams, and distress when reminded of the event
  • the avoidance of stimuli that serve as reminders of the event, such as feelings, thoughts, places, individuals, and activities
  • anxiety, including restlessness, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and hypervigilance
  • a significant disruption in normal social or work functioning


If a child has been impacted, notify the school and see if they can provide counseling for an extended period of time.  (Please visit Chapter 12 to read more about the impact trauma has on children.)


What was your experience of shock in your case?




How long did the initial shock affect you mentally and physically?




While receiving counseling is important, there is so much community can do to also support new families while they are inside of the shock and trauma of what happened.  When community comes together many things are possible such as fundraising to support the family, pooling for resources, etc.  The following are some questions to prompt brainstorming around how family members like yourself can assist new families who are new to this life path.  

Have you ever been in a position of receiving support from another family member?  What happened?  How did you meet them?  What support did you receive?



How are, and how can family-led coalitions (Families United 4 Justice, P.O.S.T., Love Not Blood Campaign and other family-lead organizations, etc.) address the shock experienced by new families?






Were there people in your support system/network that are/were helpful to you?






Were there people who were not helpful?












Issues with Reporting Police Violence

A report by Massachusetts Cop Block utilizing “justifiable homicide” statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report found at least 14,012 people have been killed by police between 1976 and 2011, an average of 400 people per year.  However, the report does not reflect homicides where officers used excessive use-of-force and despite Congress’ 1994 mandate on the Attorney General to report excessive use-of-force statistics annually, there is no governing body that collects this data. Former FBI agent and law professor Robert Fisher documented 607 fatal police shootings utilizing media sources, while the FBI reported only 393 “justifiable homicides” in 2011. More recently,, The Guardian, and the Washington Post have been keeping track of police-related deaths through media sources and have found that the average is 1,000-1,400 per year. Thus, the number of police-related deaths is not only unknown, but finding information on these incidents largely depends on media reporting which is problematic.

Media Relations

In her book, The Politics of Force, Professor Regina Lawrence, expounds on media’s role in the construction of police brutality stories, stating that because “journalists rely heavily on institutionally positioned officials for raw materials of the news,” the police by default are the primary definers of incidents involving themselves. Therefore, the narratives of victims’ family members and witnesses are considered “unofficial” and “are usually marginalized from the news, in that they are rarely drawn upon as primary news sources, and marginalized in the news, in that such groups, even when they do become primary news sources, are usually treated differently than official sources.”

-Forced Trajectory Project, Project Description



So, how do you handle the media?

The media is a tricky beast and can be your friend and enemy at the same time.  The main issue with media is that they often prioritize ratings over community advocacy.  Despite this, they are the default reporter of excessive-use-of-force cases and it is critical that you utilize the media in a way that supports you if you can.  


Families report varied experiences with the media.  Some families receive a lot of media coverage while others receive little if any.  






Here are a few tips family members have shared:


  1. Be patient.  The truth doesn’t usually surface until later, so rather than getting stuck on “what happened” focus on countering the criminalization of your loved one (which in most cases the police and media will do) by humanizing them.  When you speak about what happened, remind the media that your loved one was a human being and did not have to be killed in the situation.  There are many other choices the police could have made to apprehend the situation that would not have resulted in a death.


  1. Identify someone in the press that is sympathetic to your loss that will work with you to tell your story.  Humanize the situation for that journalist so that they can connect to you as a real person. They can provide information that isn’t available from the police; but be careful with the information that you provide them so that you don’t hurt your case.


  1. Never speak on camera unless you have a friend, family member, or someone you know that can video the entire interview. Many times, the press will take sound bites that take what you have said out of context. It is critical you have the exact recording as it was stated to address questionable statements printed by the press or aired in the news that you may find later. Remember, the press looks for controversial statements made by the parents or loved ones to create a perception that’s normally negative, for their viewing audience and ratings.  Often times their portrayal of events justify the police’s actions, especially if that journalist or media outlet is partial to the police.



What has been your experience with handling the media?  

Share your pros and cons.  What additional advice would you give family members when handling media?  
















Additional Notes:








One of the most difficult challenges is keeping a record of everything as they happen.  Following the traumatic event of losing a loved one is subsequently followed by more disruption from dealing with institutions that do not have your best interest in mind.  To reduce the damage as much as possible, implementing a plan to archive and document your experience can save you many headaches in the future.  That way when you’re ready to revisit your loved ones case in a more organized fashion you will already have some of the pieces of the puzzle put together.  


Here’s some advice from family members on best practices for archiving and documenting the process:

  1. Start a folder with information regarding your loved one’s case.  Use a notebook to date and record any and all interactions with the police, legal services, witnesses, media, and any other related interactions.  Don’t forget to date and time stamp your interactions.  
  2. You need to get as much information as possible, so ask questions and seek out sources.  
  3. Don’t give up and follow up with your contacts again and again.
  4. Don’t accept paperwork without finding out where and who it came from.  When accepting information, always take the person’s name, affiliated organization and contact information (email and phone).  
  5. As things unfold, the police and media narrative changes many times.  Document these changes.  
  6. Always record anything you experience that is out of the ordinary.
  7. Utilize recording devices such as a sound recorder, camera, video camera, and/or smartphone that should have some of these features (if not, explore phone apps that you can acquire).
  8. Keep all case-related items in the same area.
  9. As time passes, revisit old contacts, notes and documents.  You may find out something new as your mind gets more clear over time.

Now let’s talk about your experience with archiving and documenting.  


How have you kept up with these changing narratives?  





Do you have an archiving method that you would like to share with families?





Are there things that happened that you did not archive/document that you should have?







It is completely normal to assume that our established institutions actually do the work they are assigned.  However, from now on it would probably be in your favor to assume that the police and other related institutions working on your loved one’s case will not work with your best interest in mind, and may never.  What that means is you have to become a personal investigator to understand more about your loved one’s case and the situation that you are in now.  


If you’re able to hire a private investigator, or you have found a trusted community organizer, or sympathetic journalist, put them to work for you.  Also source experienced family members for advice.  Continue to take notes, and revisit old notes and archives.  More often than not you will be your own source for more information about what happened to your loved one and the elements involved.  


It is Important to know about the police officer that took your loved one’s life.  However, police officers’ records are not open to the public because they are protected by the peace officer’s bill of rights which bars their performance record from the public.  


When you are able to get the officer’s name and details, run a search on him to see if any prior complaints have been filed against them for misconduct.  What we have found is that officers’ involved in these incidents are likely to get shifted around, like get transferred to a different department in a different area.  If there is not a whole lot of public pressure for the police department to penalize the officer, the department will do what they can to sweep the case under the rug while protecting their officer.


What have you learned from your own personal investigation and what advice would you give to other families?




An autopsy report is defined as:  the external and internal examination of a body after death using surgical techniques, microscopy, laboratory analysis and medical records — the ultimate quality assessment tool in understanding the exact cause and circumstances of a death.


While the autopsy report is performed by a medical professional, it is not uncommon for family members to find inaccuracies in report.  Also, the Coroner’s office may be partial to the police as ultimately they are an integrated sector of the police department where internal politics may influence their decision.  


Autopsies are best performed within 24 hours of time of death.  They usually take an average of 2-4 hours and a preliminary report can be available within 24 hours of the autopsy.  However, the full report can take as long as 6 weeks.  


Some families wait much longer than 6 weeks for their autopsy.  It is best to stay on top of the Coroner’s office regarding the final report, but you may also consider looking into getting an independent autopsy.  


Independent autopsies $3,000-$5,000, with possible additional charges if the body needs to be transported.  Should you feel you need one, the earlier you decide to move forward with an independent autopsy the better as time is very critical.  If you’re not able to pay for an independent autopsy you can have a medical doctor review medical reports and the autopsy report.  




The College of American Pathologists have a list of board-certified pathologists that perform autopsies in 18 states for a fee:{actionForm.contentReference}=committees%2Fautopsy%2Ffee_service_list.html&_state=maximized&_pageLabel=cntvwr


You can also contact local medical examiners and/or medical schools, hospitals, funeral homes and attorneys to request a referral for an independent autopsy.  


Do you have any advice to share about autopsies?











Finding the right legal assistance can be a real challenge for families impacted by police violence.  The situation varies and is highly dependent upon how the media reports the story.  Families that receive a lot of media attention usually have lawyers rushing to them to represent them while families that receive no media attention have a hard time securing advocacy.  


Whatever attorney you are considering, research them.  Check the bar association, and call legal observers to find lawyers that already deal with these specific instances (familiarity with excessive-use-of-force cases).  

We would like to create a database of effective (and not effective) attorneys.  Help us identify which lawyers to trust and which ones to avoid by answering the following questions:

Who represented your case and were they effective?  


What was the outcome of your case?  


Would you hire the same lawyer again?  


Would you recommend your lawyer to another family?


Additional notes:





















While it varies from state to state, victims of violent crimes are usually awarded a stipend of several thousand dollars to help with emergency burial situations and any other unforeseen expenses (child support, rent and living costs, medical bills).  However, in cases of police violence families are not often privy to these funds because officers are not usually indicted, charged, or convicted for taking civilian life, therefore making the state not accountable for the pain and suffering of families.  This chapter has been created to explore options on pooling burial support for families affected by police violence.  Please answer the following questions and brainstorm any ideas on solutions you might have.


Did you receive any support for the burial of your loved one?  If so, from who/what organizations?



What potential organizations (anti-racist, anti-police brutality) could possibly contribute to the Burial Support Pool?




If there were emergency funds made available to families affected by police violence what do you feel would be the appropriate amount?




The court cases for excessive-use-of-force can be a very convoluted experience for families.  Also, the schedule for hearings and proceedings can be a drawn out process which is largely out of the hands of families.  Families find themselves subject to what the courts find and announce which can be a very lengthy and stressful process.   


Usually, the criminal case comes FIRST, unless it is a high profile case. High profile cases usually bring a civil settlement prior to criminal case settlement. This is a tactic to address the tension or defuse the tension of the community before the criminal case.  

Families come to find out that the person responsible for prosecuting the officer involved is the District Attorney, a position that often works side by side with the police on a regular basis.  Due to this clearly partial position of the DA, some families have moved to request a special prosecutor for excessive-use-of-force cases (see Wisconsin and New York).  

Civil Case
Depending on the particular attorney, some attorneys are clear that community can influence the case. Some attorneys will support community protest. Most others however, will want family members to appear as a grieving parent and not “look like an activist” in fear that the jury will not sympathize with a parent that has an activist agenda, especially if there was property damage.   


In the past the jury is usually law-abiding white folks who are more likely to side with the police but the recent awareness of the rampant nationwide police violence has caused many communities to question and distrust the police.  People power/community has the power to change CULTURE, and it is within this change that we will begin to see a change in how these cases are handled.

Additional Notes:




Most families experience police intimidation after the incident with their loved one.  Some have experienced police intimidation prior to the incident.  Regardless, the fact that it happens at all is frightening and alarming.  Along with archiving and documenting your experiences with your loved one’s case, it is equally as important to document any noted incidents or suspicions of police intimidation.  Remember to date your entries.


Some examples of possible police intimidation are:  media surveillance of your devices (wiretap), receiving repeated anonymous phone calls, being apprehended and/or arrested for minor violations, being physically intimidated (being followed, watched, or apprehended continuously).


Family-led organizations such as P.O.S.T. (Protect Our Stolen Treasures) have developed protocols to best deal with police intimidation.  Also, phone apps such as Mobile Justice CA can be helpful to record any incidents that you may experience.  The Mobile Justice CA app records and then sends the footage immediately to the ACLU for review.  


Be aware of your surroundings at all times and utilize security measures such as installing surveillance cameras outside your home.  Be sure to take care of yourself and monitor yourself for any signs of the psychological effects of police intimidation which includes isolation, PTSD and paranoia.  





Have you experienced any police intimidation?  Please share your experience and any advice you may have.





Working in harmony with community is vital for the best outcome of your loved one’s case, and future cases.  However, families have experienced exploitation not only from the criminal justice institution, but also from the activist community that poses to serve your best interest.  While it may not come from any ill-intention, when community organizations are not oriented on best practices with working with impacted families, they often make mistakes that are more costly to family members than to themselves.  In this chapter we will explore what you have experienced from working with your community.



Please share your experience with the following prompts:


What community organizations have you worked with?  Please share your good, bad, and neutral experiences.    






Which ones do you trust and recommend to other families?





Create a list of community organizations who you think would be willing to utilize and disperse the toolkit and support families.






Additional notes:




Trauma permanently changes us.  This is the big, scary truth about trauma:  there is no such thing as “getting over it.”  The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger:  a major life disruption leaves a new normal in its wake.  There is no “back to the old me.”  You are different now, full stop.  This is not a wholly negative thing.  Healing from trauma can also mean finding strength and joy.  The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal.  It is to acknowledge and wear your new life–warts, wisdom, and all–with courage. — Catherine Woodlwiss


Homicide survivors may experience many other kinds of loss after the murder. Because of the suddenness of the death and the stigma of the murder itself, family members may find drastic changes in their lifestyle afterwards. Some of these other kinds of losses may include:


  • Loss of self, a sense of having been “changed” from the person they used to be;
  • Loss of a sense of control over their lives;
  • Loss of independence or a greater need for dependence on other individuals and/or institutions to address the wrong that was done to them and their loved one;
  • Loss of social support or social standing, with increased feelings of isolation and loneliness;
  • Loss of a sense of safety and security;
  • Loss or questioning of faith or religion. Very often, homicide survivors may question how God could let something like this happen to someone they love. If survivors believe that good things are a reward for a good life and their loved one was a good person, then the question of how this could happen can be very difficult for survivors; and
  • Loss of community or physical environment. After the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City left 168 men, women and children dead, the surviving residents had to adapt, not only to the physical alteration of their city by the blast, but also the loss of relatives and friends.





What has been the effects of trauma on you and your family?











Additional Notes










Historically, police violence has been perpetrated against poor people and socially marginalized groups like the African American community. African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asians were among those targeted while being paid slave wages as railroad workers in the nineteenth century. Today, as poverty and economic inequality grows, more white people are now also becoming the target of police violence. Though this is happening, victims of police violence are still disproportionately African American and Native American.


What you need to know is that this is not about some rogue cop.  Police violence can be traced back to the very core of policing culture. Although police violence should not happen, families need to understand that it is going to continue happening until the culture of policing has been addressed and drastically changed.



Excessive-use-of-force by police as a social issue facing nationwide, massive public opposition and protest by US citizens first appeared in the 1830’s and 1840’s and held many of the grievances that it still does today.  Because the police were primarily engaged in enforcing public order laws against gambling and drunkenness, surveilling immigrants and people recently freed from enslavement and harassing labor organizers, public opinion favored restrictions on the use of force.


However, the value of armed, paramilitary presence and authorization to use force, and indeed deadly force, served the interests of local economic elites who had wanted organized police departments in the first place. Also, the presence of a paramilitary force occupying the streets, was regarded as essential by what we today call ‘the 99 percent’ because such “organizations intervened between the propertied elites and propertyless masses who were regarded as politically dangerous as a class.”



The earliest appearance of policing in the US colonies had two forms:

  1. The Watch:
    1. characterised by informal and communal operation
    2. community volunteers responsible for warning of danger
    3. Boston created a ‘night watch’ in 1636, New York in 1658 and Philadelphia in 1700


  1.  The Big Stick:  private-for-profit policing


Philadelphia created the first ‘day watch’ in 1833 and New York instituted a ‘day watch’ in 1844 as a supplement to its new municipal police force (Gaines, Kappeler, and Vaughn 1999).


It was not until the 1830’s that the idea of a centralized municipal police department first emerged in the United States.  In 1838, the city of Boston established the first American police force, followed by New York City in 1845, Albany, NY, and Chicago in 1851, New Orleans and Cincinnati in 1853, Philadelphia in 1855, and Newark, NJ and Baltimore in 1857.


*Contextual note: The American Civil War was fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865.


In the post-Civil War era, municipal police departments increasingly turned their attention to strike-breaking. By the late 19th century union organizing and labor unrest was widespread in the United States.


New York City had 5,090 strikes, involving almost a million workers from 1880 to 1900; Chicago had 1,737 strikes, involving over a half a million workers in the same period. Many of the “riots” which so concerned local economic elites were actually strikes called against specific companies.


State police agencies defined :

In the United States, state police are a police body unique to each U.S. state, having statewide authority to conduct law enforcement activities and criminal investigations. In general, they perform functions outside the jurisdiction of the county sheriff (Vermont being a notable exception), such as enforcing traffic laws on state highways and interstate expressways, overseeing the security of the state capitol complex, protecting the governor, training new officers for local police forces too small to operate an academy and providing technological and scientific services. They support local police and help to coordinate multi-jurisdictional task force activity in serious or complicated cases in those states that grant full police powers statewide.


The Pennsylvania State Police were modeled after the Philippine Constabulary, the occupation force placed in the Philippine Islands following the Spanish-American War.


The Pennsylvania state police force emerged in the aftermath of the anthracite mine strike of 1902, in Pennsylvania. The passage of legislation on May 2, 1905, did not provoke controversy because it was quietly rushed through the mine-owner dominated legislature, but the strike-breaking role of the new police elicited strong opposition from organized labor, who likened them to the repressive Russian cossacks under the tsar.


The formation of the New York State Police force on April 11, 1917, was done amidst controversy and public debate, and the legislation creating it passed by only one vote.

Outside of Pennsylvania, the new state police were also established to free up the National Guard from strikebreaking duties, which was extensive in the later 19th century and early decades of the 20th.


By the end of 19th century municipal police departments were firmly entrenched in the day-to-day political affairs of big-city political machines. Police provided services and assistance to political allies of the machine and harassed, arrested and interfered with the political activities of machine opponents. This was a curious dichotomy for an ostensibly crime control organization. Political machines at the turn of the century, were in fact, the primary modality through which crime was organized in urban areas. Politicians ran or supervised gambling, prostitution, drug distribution and racketeering. In fact, organized crime and the dominant political parties of American cities were one in the same. Politicians also employed and protected the many white-youth gangs that roamed the cities, using them to intimidate opponents, to get out the vote (by force if necessary), and to extort “political contributions” from local businesses. At the dawn of the 20th century, police were, at least de facto, acting as the enforcement arm of organized crime in virtually every big city.


Police also engaged in and helped organize widespread election fraud in their role as political functionaries for the machine. In return, police had virtual carte blanche in the use of force and had as their primary business not crime control, but the solicitation and acceptance of bribes. It is incorrect to say the late 19th and early 20th century police were corrupt, they were in fact, primary instruments for the creation of corruption in the first place.


Police departments during the machine-era provided a variety of community services other than law enforcement. In New York and Boston they sheltered the homeless, kept tabs on infectious epidemics, such as cholera, and even emptied public privies. While this service function of police continues to be important today, it is important to recall that in the context of political machine, government services were traded for votes and political loyalty. And while there is no doubt that these police services were of public value, they must be viewed as primarily political acts designed to curry public favor and ensure the continued dominance of their political patrons.


The advent of Prohibition (1919-1933) only made the situation worse. The outlawing of alcohol combined with the fact that the overwhelming majority of urban residents drank and wished to continue to drink not only created new opportunities for police corruption but substantially changed the focus of that corruption. During prohibition lawlessness became more open, more organized, and more blatant. Major cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia has upwards of 20,000 speakeasies operating in them. Overlooking that level of publicly displayed crime required that corruption become total. But most important to policing, Prohibition marked a change in how corruption was organized. Criminal syndicates, set up to deliver alcohol to all those illegal outlets, acquired enormous sums of money, political power in their own right, no longer dependent on the machine’s largesse, and respectability. Organized crime was able to emerge from the shadows and deal directly with corrupt police. In many cities police became little more than watchmen for organized crime enterprises, or, on a more sinister vein, enforcement squads to harass the competition of the syndicate paying the corruption bill. By the end of prohibition, the corrupting of American policing was almost total.



Policing found its origins in the insidious practice of ‘slave patrols.’

The first formal slave patrol was created in the Carolina colonies in 1704 (Reichel 1992).

Had three primary functions:

(1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to enslavers, those who stow away enslaved people;

(2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter revolts and uprisings

(3) to maintain a form of discipline for enslaved workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed people who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws, designed to deny freed people equal rights and access to the political system.






One of the earliest of these investigative commissions was the Lenox Committee, formed in 1894 to investigate police corruption related to gambling and prostitution and to investigate charges of police extortion (in the Northeast, West & Midwest primarily). The Lenox Committee also determined that promotion within the New York Police Department required a bribe of $1,600 to be promoted to sergeant and up to $15,000 to be promoted to Captain. Subsequent investigatory commissions in New York City include the Curren Committee (1913), which investigated police collusion with gambling and prostitution; the Seabury Committee (1932), which investigated Prohibition-related corruption; the 1949 Brooklyn grand jury which investigated gambling payoffs; the 1972 Knapp Commission which looked into corruption related to gambling and drugs; and the 1993 Mollen Commission which exposed massive drug corruption, organized theft by police officers, excessive use of force, and use of drugs by the police.


On a national basis, President Hoover (from 1929 to 1933)  appointed the Wickersham Commission in 1929 to examine what was perceived as a rising crime rate and police ineffectiveness in dealing with crime. It is no accident that in looking at those issues, the Wickersham Commission also became the first official governmental body to investigate organized crime.


Commissions, while shedding light on the extent of corruption and serving to inform the public have little lasting impact on police practices. As external organizations they report, recommend and dissolve. The police department continues on as a bureaucratic entity resistant to both outside influence and reform.


Other attempts to reform policing have come from within the ranks of the departments themselves.


Similarly, reform-minded police executives began to try to restructure the department itself, making it more bureaucratic, with an internal clear chain-of-command. Once again, the hope was to structurally isolate police officers from politicians.


By the 1950s, police professionalism was being widely touted as better way to improve police effectiveness and reform policing as an institution. O.W. Wilson set the standard for the professionalism movement when he published his book Police Administration, which quickly became a blueprint for professionalizing policing. Wilson argued for greater centralization of the police function, with an emphasis on military-style organization and discipline. Central themes for police administration were to become crime control and efficiency in achieving crime control. Closer supervision of police officers was recommended; foot patrols were replaced by motorized patrols, precinct houses were consolidated and more central police facilities constructed; and command functions were centralized in a headquarters staff (Uchida 1993).


Police professionalism, however, did not turn out to be the panacea Wilson had envisaged. *Professionalism antagonized tensions between the police and the communities they served and created rancor and dissension within the departments themselves. The crime control tactics recommended by the professionalism movement, such as aggressive stop and frisk procedures, created widespread community resentment, particularly among young, black and brown males who were most frequently targeted. Police professionalism and the military model of policing became synonymous with police repression. Furthermore, as Walker points out “a half century of professionalization had created police departments that were vast bureaucracies, inward looking,  isolated from the public, and defensive in the face of any criticism”. In addition professionalization had done nothing to rectify racist and sexist hiring practices that had been in effect since police departments had been created in the 1830s.


Within police departments professionalization meant an emphasis on bureaucratic efficiency. Police administrators centralized authority, tightened the chain-of-command, tried to run their departments through the application of arcane, contradictory and often inapplicable rules. A highly authoritarian police bureaucracy not only isolated itself from the public, but from the very police officers whose conduct it was trying to control. By the mid-1960s police officers had responded with an aggressive and widespread police unionization campaign. Aided by court rulings more favorable to the organizing of public employees; fueled by resentment of the authoritarian organization of departments; and united in a common resistance to increasing charges of police brutality, corruption and other forms of misconduct, nearly every large-city police department had been unionized by the early 1970s. Police officers struck in New York City in 1971; in Baltimore in 1974 and in San Francisco in 1975. “Job actions” such as “blue flue” and work slowdowns (i.e. not writing tickets, making few arrests) were common in other cities.


Under the “Taylorization” reforms, police departments reduced the size of their forces; went from two-person to one-person patrol cars; and increased the division of labor within police departments. Police work was broken down into ever more specific, highly specialized tasks; patrol became more reactive; technology was used to restore the control of police administrators (i.e., 911 emergency lines; computerization); and some traditional police tasks were turned over to civilian employees. All of this served to further isolate the police from the citizenry; to further reduce the effectiveness of police practices; and to continually justify ever more “Taylorization” as a response to increasing inefficiency.


Concurrent with reform efforts aimed at professionalization, was an increased reliance on technology and scientific aspects of police investigation. The idea of police as scientific crime fighters had originated with August Vollmer as early as 1916, with the introduction of the crime laboratory. By 1921 Vollmer was advocating the widespread use of lie detectors and the establishment of a database for collecting national crime data. Over the years science became synonymous with professionalism for many police executives. The use of fingerprints, serology, toxicology chemistry and scientific means for collecting evidence were emphasized as part of a professional police force. In terms of technological advancements, new ways of maintaining police record systems and enhancing police communications, such as the police radio, became priorities. The emphasis was on efficiency and crime-fighting, with the social work aspects of policing deemphasized and discouraged. The hope was also that the professional, scientific crime-fighters would be less susceptible to corruption. *It is therefore a further irony of policing that in Philadelphia new communications technologies were put to use in establishing what is arguably the first “call girl” system in the United States, calling out for prostitutes using police communications systems.


By the 1960s, massive social and political changes were occurring in the United States. The civil rights movement was challenging white hegemony in the South and racist social policies in the North. The use of professional police forces to suppress the Civil Rights movement, often by brute force did irreparable damage to American policing. From 1964 to 1968 riots, usually sparked by police brutality or oppression, rocked the major cities in the United States. Police handling of large demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was also controversial. In the 1967-1968 school years there were 292 mass demonstrations on 163 college campuses across the country. All of this political instability was further antagonized by a series of political assassinations. National commissions created to investigate riots and political instability frequently and universally pointed to the police as a source of social tension.


The creation & implementation of S.W.A.T:

SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) is a term for law enforcement units which use specialized or military equipment and tactics in the United States. First created in the 1960s to handle riot control or violent confrontations with criminals, the number and usage of SWAT teams increased in the 1980s and 1990s during the War on Drugs and later in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In the United States as of 2005, SWAT teams were deployed 50,000 times every year, almost 80% of the time to serve search warrants, most often for narcotics. SWAT teams are increasingly equipped with military-type hardware and trained to deploy against threats of terrorism, for crowd control, and in situations beyond the capabilities of ordinary law enforcement, sometimes deemed “high-risk.” Other countries have developed their own paramilitary police units (PPUs) that are also described as or compared to SWAT forces.


SWAT units are often equipped with specialized firearms including submachine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, sniper rifles, riot control agents, and stun grenades. In addition, they may use specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, night vision devices, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers, inside enclosed structures.


The LAPD SWAT Team was first tested in an unprovoked December 8th, 1969 raid of the headquarters of the Black Panthers which was part of a national attack by the FBI in collaboration with states’ local police as part of the notorious covert Counterintelligence Program, designed and implemented by the megalomaniac racist, j.edgar hoover.  The raid occurred just four days after the Chicago police raid in which the Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton was cowardly assassinated by a heavily militarized unit that is nowhere to be found in the research of SWAT history, yet resembled the LAPD assassin group very closely in its arms and tactics.


The SWAT was tested again on record in 1974 during a firefight with the Symbionese Liberation Army, a “bizarre but dangerous band of radicals” known for kidnapping heiress Patricia Heart, according to the New York Times’ sensationalized reporting.





The police and criminal justice system response was twofold. First in 1968, as part of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, large sums of federal money were made available for rather cosmetic police-community relations programs, which were mostly media focused attempts to improve the police image. By the 1980s many police departments had begun to consider a new strategy, community policing. Community policing emphasized close working relations with the community, police responsiveness to the community, and common efforts to alleviate a wide variety of community problems, many of which were social in nature. Community policing is the latest iteration in efforts to


(1) improve relations between the police and the community;

(2) decentralize the police; and,

(3) in response to the overwhelming body of scholarly literature which finds that the police have virtually no impact on crime, no matter their emphasis or role, provide a means to make citizens feel more comfortable about what has been a seemingly insoluble American dilemma.


*This new ‘community policing’ tactic is largely what led to stop & frisk and ‘jump out car’ profiling that remains a systematic method of discrimination, intimidation and criminalization to this day.



“The War on Drugs” is an American term usually applied to the United States government’s campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade. This initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. (from wikipedia)

*We know now that this so-called war is not a war on drugs, but a simultaneous war on populations of the poor and people of color communities of the united states as well as the poor populations of foreign countries where the drugs come from. The Iran-Contra trials and the Larry Davis story have revealed  the u.s. government’s collaboration with local police all around the u.s. to; import and distribute crack cocaine, weapons, illegal equipment (vests, etc) and contraband into american ghettos.


The result of this fascist project has been to criminalize our youth and community populations in general, mass incarcerate our population, cause increased violence, fear and disunity in communities as well as to fill the pockets of corrupt police, but especially to create and support a multi-billion dollar ‘security industry’ , which is the core of the Prison Industrial Complex that has made so many multi-national corporations rich off of the blood and enslavement of the youth of our communities that fill prisons (The u.s. currently holds the highest population of incarcerated people of any country in the world per capita).


The term ‘War on Drugs’ was popularized by the media shortly after a press conference given on June 18, 1971, by United States President Richard Nixon—the day after publication of a special message from President Nixon to the Congress on Drug Abuse Prevention and Control—during which he declared drug abuse “public enemy number one”.

*We are witnessing  a new turn in our current social crisis with the revival and expansion of the War on drugs/’Tough on Crime’ policies that have traditionally targeted communities of color across the u.s. under newly appointed attorney general jeff sessions and the 45th president. In this latest continuation of failed programs (a failure socially, but great success for the parasitic corporations that reap financial gains from these forms of genocide), these policies have included recent laws like SB4 in Texas and The 1033 Program.


SB4 is a law aimed at outlawing sanctuary cities and increasing the power of local police to rival that of I.C.E and including non-law enforcement workers in the racist crusade against immigrants of color, new penalties for employees of the state and local paramilitary forces that do not comply, etc.




The 1033 Program was showcased by the government in its use against the people as we fought for justice for the murder of Michael Brown by the Ferguson police in St.Louis, M.O. in August of 2014. The program focuses on gifting left over military weapons and equipment from wars overseas (Afghanistan & Iraq for example) to states’ local police forces.  Also called the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, this platform is used by police departments to obtain military equipment.



Journalist Ben Swann (.com) explains:

“It is a federal program that provides surplus DoD military equipment to state and local civilian law enforcement agencies for use in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism operations, and to enhance officer safety.” The 1033 program does provides armored vehicles and flash grenades and other emergency supplies that go beyond weaponry.

According to a report from the New York Times, “about 500 planes, helicopters, and mine-resistant armored vehicles have been obtained, alongside 94,000 machine guns.”


In conclusion (from Dr. Gary Potter verbatim):

From the beginning American policing has been intimately tied not to the problem of crime, but to exigencies and demands of the American political-economy. From the anti-immigrant bashing of early police forces, to the strike breaking of the later 1800’s, to the massive corruption of the early 20th century, through professionalism, taylorization and now attempts at amelioration through community policing, the role of the police in the United States has been defined by economics and politics, not crime or crime control. As we look to the 21st century, it now appears likely that a new emphasis on science and technology, particularly related to citizen surveillance; a new wave of militarization reflected in the spread of SWAT teams and other paramilitary squads; and a new emphasis on community pacification through community policing, are all destined to replay the failures of history as the policies of the future.




Additional Notes:








Self-care is an important term to get familiar with and practice as you navigate through this path.  Often times family members are so occupied with all that is demanded of them they forget to take care of themselves.  Here is some practical self-care advice and also some room for you to share your own self-care practices:


  1. Pay attention to your diet and nutrition (and if you haven’t yet, start paying attention).  A large part of how you feel is what you eat and the timeliness of your eating.  
  2. Exercise regularly.  This is different for everyone, but research shows that regular exercise is a natural antidepressant.  
  3. Sit still quietly, and take deep breaths.  Meditation is a powerful healing practice that is becoming more known for its effectiveness in calming the mind and spirit.  While it may sound intimidating it’s actually quite simple. Sit upright, rest your hands on your knees or lap, close your eyes and breathe.  That’s all there is to it!  Set easy goals for yourself (sitting for 5 minutes at a time) so that they are attainable and when you’re ready increase your sitting time.  
  4. Stay hydrated.  Being dehydrated can affect our mental faculties, cause headaches and fatigue.  Make it a goal to drink an average of 8 – 8oz. glasses a day.  
  5. Morning and night time routines.  Trauma and stress have a real way of interrupting sleep.  We can’t function well if we have a disturbed sleep cycle.  To start getting control of your sleep develop a healthy morning and night time routine to bring your body back to baseline.  Watching less television (3 hours before you sleep) and fasting from social media will prepare your mind and body for better sleep.  
  6. Spend time in nature.  The sun, the beach, the woods, the desert…taking time out to enjoy nature can revitalize your body, mind and spirit.
  7. Create intentional time with your friends, family and loved ones.  Your community needs you, and spending time with your loved ones will feed and heal you.  
  8. Laugh more.  It has been scientifically proven that laughter heals.  Go to a comedy show, watch a comedy, or do something that will guarantee laughter!  
  9. Create.  Whether it’s drawing a picture, singing in a choir, taking a dance class, writing music or poetry, or cooking in your kitchen, CREATE regularly!  Make it a part of your weekly routine.  When we are creating, we are exercising our brains and allowing for openings in our neural pathways, breaking habitual thinking.


Now add to this list.  What self-care practices have helped you?  





There are a number of healing methods that are becoming more popularized because of their reported effectiveness.  At our Network Gathering we have secured a number of alternative healers to come share their practice with you.  Utilize this chapter to take notes about new alternative healing methods you have learned about and share any notes on any alternative healing methods that have helped you.  


The following are alternative healing methods that you may want to look into:


Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine







Reiki (Energy) Healing










We are collecting resources for the purpose of this toolkit.  Think of any resources that have aided you on your path.  A few sources have already been listed.  Feel free to also offer descriptions on each source you provide.


Statistics on excessive-use-of-force cases: – The Stolen Lives Project, an archival project started in the 1990’s documenting thousands of police killings across the nation – An online archival project utilizing mapping as a way to understand where police violence happens more frequently – A comprehensive, citizen-run online database of police killings by day – The Guardian’s database on police killings – The Washington Post’s database on police killings (2015 and 2016 available) – We Charge Genocide:  Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s report on the killing of African Americans by law enforcement and vigilantes every 28 hours – Statistics and analysis – citizen run site on statistics and analysis by journalist D. Brian Burghart.


Community action:


Documentary projects and oral histories: – A long-term multimedia project following the narratives of those who have lost loved ones in police-interactions



Please use the following pages to share your resources and any additional notes/responses/comments!  THANK YOU!!!