June 22, 2017

Charleena Lyles Should Be Alive


Category: Advocacy, Equity, Gender-Based Violence

Photo courtesy of Nate Gowdy  |  http://www.nategowdy.com/  |  https://www.instagram.com/nategowdy/

Photo courtesy of Nate Gowdy  |  www.nategowdy.com/   |  instagram.com/nategowdy/

June 22, 2017
For immediate release

In this moment, we send our deepest condolences to Charleena’s family and write to lift up her humanity.

To our community of advocates, and others working to support survivors of violence: we see you and we are committed to supporting you.

Charleena Lyles should be alive, not dead. But in this new reality, where the memory of Charleena is a hot, bright fire, we are angry.

Charleena, a black woman and mother of four, was killed in her Sandpoint home just a few days ago by two white Seattle Police officers. Charleena was a survivor of domestic violence whose struggle to protect her children from the risks posed by her abusive ex-boyfriend impacted her physical and mental health. Not her race, nor survivor status, mental wellness, or protection of her children should be cause for increased vulnerability, and yet they were. And they are for so many people each and every day. This is unacceptable. We demand accountability and we must do better.

In a statement made earlier this week by Solid Ground—the organization that runs the housing where Charleena lived—the “shooting highlights systems failures and need for reforms… When people move into Sand Point they are coming from the traumas of homelessness. Many of these residents struggle to overcome multiple barriers to success, including domestic violence, language barriers, mental health issues, and addiction. We promise them safe, stable housing from which to heal and build the lives they want. We tell them we work with community systems to provide support and resources. But this weekend, that promise was taken away for Charleena and her children by the inability of multiple institutions, including the housing, health, mental health and law enforcement systems. Trust has once again been broken.”

As a coalition working in and alongside many of these institutions, we re-affirm our commitment to unite across issues to end gender-based violence. We acknowledge that, as a movement, we’ve upheld some of these harmful systems, and we seek to undo that. We uphold the belief that we are all better off when we value the self-determination and perspectives of survivors. We affirm our commitment to working together towards safe and just communities where all people can thrive, through education, collaboration, and advocacy. We commit to building—and rebuilding—trust.

In our personal and professional lives, we will foster conversation and collective action that challenges systemic racism and violence—the same systemic racism and violence that caused Charleena’s death.  This is our commitment to you, our community. Please stay in dialogue with us as well as our incredible member organizations.

For those of you who are looking for ways to foster love and support in light of this tragedy, here are a few opportunities:

+Join with others and attend the march and vigil for Charleena Lyles and black women this evening, beginning at Westlake Center, 6pm.

+Financially support Charleena’s children and family for the months and years to come through a GoFundMe campaign organized by Charleena’s sister.

+Learn more about how to support survivors facing criminalization, through community defense campaigns. Take a look at this new resource from Survived & Punished.


View a PDF version of this statement here.