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Media Advisory: Following Months of Advocating Behind the Scenes with Elected Officials and More Killings by Police, Families with the Fatal State Violence Response Program Collectively Share Their Stories and Demands for the First Time

May 24, 2022

Media Advisory 

Following Months of Advocating Behind the Scenes with Elected Officials and More Killings by Police, Families with the Fatal State Violence Response Program Collectively Share Their Stories and Demands for the First Time

What: Rally and Press Conference held by the Fatal State Violence Response Program

Who: 

The Fatal State Violence (FSV) Response Program is a strategic initiative anchored by ArchCity Defenders and Faith for Justice focused on supporting surviving families of those killed by police and/or who died in state custody. The FSV Response Program provides healing spaces and support to impacted families, responds to incidents of fatal state violence through a team of crisis and hotline responders, and advocates for policy change.

Press Conference Speakers: 

Brittney Watkins, ArchCity Defenders Staff Attorney (emcee)

Larry Graves, father of Julius Graves, killed by SLMPD in April 2019 

Toni Taylor, mother of Cary T. Ball, Jr., killed by SLMPD in April 2013

Tammy Bufford, mother of Cortez Bufford, killed by SLMPD in December 2019

Gina Torres, mother of Isaiah Hammett, killed by SLMPD SWAT in June 2017

Don Clark, Jr., son of Don Clark, Sr., killed by SLMPD SWAT in February 2017

When: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 from 11:30AM-12:00PM, CST 

Where: Outside of St. Louis City Hall (Tucker Blvd. side)

Why: 

Following the continued killings by police in St. Louis, particularly five members of the Simmons family in early May, a growing number of families impacted by fatal state violence are speaking collectively and publicly for the first time. Organized by the Fatal State Violence Response Program, the families of Cortez Bufford, Jules Graves, Cary T. Ball, Jr., Isaiah Hammett, and Don Clark, Sr. are not only united by their grief and the exhaustion of policing without consequence, but also in their demands for change. Since November 2021, advocates have reached out to and met with several local and state elected officials, urging policy and budget changes to decrease state violence, while remaining vigilant of ongoing police killings, and supporting families in crisis. 

At today’s press conference, the families whose lives are forever changed because of fatal state violence, speak out together, and publicly express their demands:

  1. A full, unequivocal ban on the use of no-knock raids, “quick knock” raids, and other forms of militarized policing on St. Louis residents.
  2. A full, unequivocal ban on the police use of vehicular chases, which endanger not only the person being chased but the officers doing the chasing and bystanders.
  3. Truly independent investigations of killings by police, with real consequences and accountability. 
  4. Increased transparency for surviving families on the circumstance of our loved ones’ death.
  5. Reparations for families who have lost loved ones to police violence.

Speakers will close the press conference with ways for the public to support:

  • Attend the balloon release and birthday commemoration of Cortez Bufford following the press release
  • Make a donation to the Simmons’ GoFundMe to help cover final arrangements for the five family members who were killed by a police chase in May 
  • Contact your elected official and amplify your support for these five demands
  • Attend the angelversary of Isaiah Hammett on June 7, 2022, at City Hall 

A livestream of the event will be available via ArchCity Defenders’ Facebook page. RSVP to the event for updates.

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Media Contact:

Z Gorley, Communications Director, ArchCity Defenders
(314) 898-8185
[email protected]

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