Monday, April 18, 2022
Since November 2021, ArchCity Defenders’ “Fatal State Violence Response Program,” in partnership with Faith for Justice, has provided ongoing support to individuals whose loved ones have been killed by police or died in jail custody—incidents ArchCity characterizes as Fatal State Violence (FSV). Through the Program’s inaugural Response Team, the Hotline, and community meetings and events, the FSV Response Program continues to organize a spectrum of advocates. In anticipation of the initial FSV Response Team cohort concluding in May 2022, ArchCity and Faith for Justice are calling on individuals to apply to volunteer with the FSV Response Team as a Crisis and/or Hotline Responder. Applications can be found and submitted online between Friday, April 15 through Friday, May 6, 2022. ArchCity and Faith for Justice will conduct interviews and provide intensive training for members of the new Response Team between mid to late May.
The FSV Response Program stems from ArchCity’s holistic legal advocacy approach to combating state violence, especially in communities of color, and consists of the three main components—the FSV Response Team (Crisis and Hotline Responders), the FSV Hotline which allows community members to call and report FSV incidents, and monthly community meetings/events, which center impacted families, provide space for healing and fellowship, and offer public political education on relevant current events and policies.
Nine people have volunteered on the initial FSV Response Team since it began on November 19, 2021—seven Crisis Responders and two Hotline Responders. During the past six months, the Response Team has physically responded to five incidents, and they have connected with five families who’ve recently lost loved ones to state violence during mid November 2021 through the present. The Response Team, together with staff organizers, has also provided ongoing support through organizing vigil and angelversary events, facilitating community meetings and town halls, and engaging in media advocacy that centers and humanizes FSV victims and their surviving loved ones.
At present, as the FSV Response Team transitions to its second cohort, and into the future, community members are encouraged to call the FSV Hotline number at (314) 643-6244 and share information about police killings and jail deaths. Hotline Responders listen and provide ways for impacted families to get in touch with the FSV Response Program and be connected with social services and other resources.
On January 16, 2021, MLK Day, ArchCity launched its Fatal State Violence Project in solidarity with families who have had loved ones killed by police or die in jail. In the spirit of Dr. King, and commitment to speaking truth to power, ArchCity held an interactive webinar in which ArchCity staff and impacted family and community members talked about the project and reviewed the key findings from a groundbreaking policy report entitled, “Death by the State: The State of Fatal State Violence in St. Louis.”
Since the Project’s launch, ArchCity’s holistic legal advocacy approach has guided what the efforts have looked like—from filing and litigating civil cases on behalf of surviving family members, to requesting records and documents from police departments, to holding community-based events that center impacted families, to engaging in media and policy advocacy. To look at the Project’s year in review, visit ArchCity’s website.
Z Gorley, Communications Director