In response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who murdered 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin, three black women by the name of Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created A powerful movement which has been the rallying cry for the black community, #BlackLivesMatter.
Since the inception of Black Lives Matter, the act of police brutality has continued to plague the African-American communities, with no prejudice to age or gender.
Although Black men are more likely to get murdered by the police, Black women have not been exempt from police killings, and often their death is overshadowed by the execution of Black men.
The most recent case involves the shooting death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, an EMT from Louisville, Kentucky. Breonna was shot eight times by Louisville police officers as they forcefully and illegally entered her home on March 13, 2020. But Breonna’s story was minimized due to lack of media attention and awareness.
As we closely monitor and support the Black Lives Matter movement, we should give the SayHerName movement the same energy.
Similar to Black Lives Matter, #SayHerName is a social movement that seeks to raise awareness for Black female victims of police brutality and murder.
As the murder of Trayvon Martin sparked the development of Black Lives Matter, the death of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Naperville, Illinois resident that died while in police custody in Texas on July 10, 2015, sparked the SayHerName movement.
The African American Policy Forum created SayHerName to change the public perception that victims of police brutality are predominantly black males.
Although Sandra Bland is closely associated with the movement, hundreds of black women have had their life taken by the police, and their cases have gone unnoticed.
Reika Boyd was a 22-year-old black woman, fatally shot on March 21, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois, by Dante Servin, an off-duty Chicago police detective. It took over a year for Servin to be charged with involuntary manslaughter, and three months before the death of Sandra Bland, Servin was cleared on all charges.
#SayHerName should be an intricate piece in the fight against injustice in the black community, especially since Black women routinely face police brutality that doesn’t always result in death. As silent as it may seem, Black women also deal with assault and rape that are committed by police officers.
Take Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw’s as an example. Holtzclaw was convicted of aggravated rape of 12 Black women and one teenage Black girl while on duty between December 2013 and June 2014.
Even though Holtzclaw is currently serving 263 years, what about the officers that continue to walk the streets preying on Black women?
A 2016 DOJ investigation into the Baltimore Police Department revealed several cases in which officers had extorted sex from Black women in exchange for leniency. The department failed to hold the officers accountable for their actions.
The widespread systemic oppression, murder, brutality, and sexual assault against the Black women at the hands of the police is often invisible to the public eye, but it happens. And that’s why Black Lives Matter and SayHerName should collectively be the focal point within the black community.
Although three strong Black women started Black Lives Matter, Black women have been left out of the national narrative when it comes to police violence.
So, let’s take a moment to remember some of the Black women who lost their lives to police brutality.
Breonna Taylor killed by police in her bed on March 13, 2020. Charleena Chavon Lyles killed by police on June 18, 2017. Korryn Gaines killed by police on August 1, 2016. Atatiana Jefferson killed by police in her home on October 12, 2019.
Sandra Bland died in police custody on July 13, 2015, Alexia Christian murdered by police on April 30, 2015, Mya Hall killed by police on March 30, 2015, Meagan Hockaday killed by police on March 28, 2015. Janisha Fonville killed by police on February 18, 2015, Natasha McKenna died of police-induced trauma on February 8, 2015. Tanisha Anderson killed by police on November 13, 2014, Aura Rosser killed by police on November 9, 2014, Sheneque Proctor died in police custody on November 1, 2014, Michelle Cusseaux killed by police on August 13, 2014.
To the countless other Black women who have lost their lives to police violence, may your soul find peace and your spirit guide us as we continue to fight for justice. #SayHerName
For more information on the movement and how you can help, visit AAPH.Org/SHN-Campaign