For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
Contact: Rachael DeCruz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-451-9455
Another Black Person Murdered at the Hands of Seattle Police Department
Seattle King County NAACP Demands Justice for Victim's Family
Seattle, WA--On Sunday, June 18th, Seattle police officers shot and killed a young Black woman, Charleena Lyles, in her home. The Seattle King County NAACP released the following statement in response:
"Sunday's tragedy should never have happened. A young Black woman called the police for help. She reported an attempted break-in and somehow wound up dead; murdered at the hands of Seattle Police Department (SPD). Charleena Lyles was pregnant, and had three children who were in the apartment when she was shot and killed. The police also knew that she suffered from mental health issues; citing that as their reason to send two officers. The NAACP demands that Seattle City Council and the Mayor hold a public hearing where Charleena's family and our community can question SPD Chief O'Toole directly about this incident.
The Seattle King County NAACP does not want to see any more excuses or justifications for such a callous use of force. SPD's current consent decree agreement with the Department of Justice means nothing if it can't prevent the death of someone like Charleena Lyles. We also know that this is not an isolated incident. Her death can only be understood in the context of a much larger pattern of institutional and structural racism in our country. SPD has a long history of excessive use of force, especially when it comes to people of color. While people sit by and debate the nuances of police reform, the death toll in our community continues to rise. As we fight to ensure that Charleena's family receives the justice that they deserve, the officers that shot her are on paid, administrative leave. Something is terribly wrong with our justice system when someone loses their life and the people accountable are put on paid vacation.
The Seattle King County NAACP is tired of watching Black and Brown people victimized at the hands of our police. We're tired of releasing statement after statement demanding justice and accountability, only to have the officers found not guilty. The state of police relations in our city and across the country is abysmal. We have a serious problem on our hands, and no amount of training, or protocol is going to fix it. It's time to actually start holding officers accountable when they kill innocent victims; sending a clear and strong message that force of that kind won't be tolerated. What unfolded on Sunday was an aggressive showing of force against a young, Black woman, who was known to have mental health problems. The police should have been prepared to handle the situation accordingly, and find ways to de-escalate the conversation and ensure that everyone stayed safe.
At the root of all of these interactions, is the dehumanization of people of color. The headlines immediately following Charleena's death mentioned she was armed and had mental health issues. But Charleena was much more than that. She was a human being; a mother, a sister, and a dedicated member of the community. She was scared. But even if she wasn't any of those things, she was still a young woman who deserved to have her humanity recognized by the police that showed up at her door and ultimately killed her.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Charleena Lyles' family; from her children who were forced to witness her death, to everyone that knew and loved her."
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. More information about the Seattle King County NAACP can be found here: www.seattlekingcountynaacp.org