Content note: mention of injury or death by violence.
13 Names: Atatiana Jefferson, Kuanchung Kao + 11
In memory of Kuanchung Kao and Atatiana Jefferson lived on opposite sides of the country and died 22 years apart.
Both Kao and Jefferson were professionals with STEM degrees. Both were killed after a neighbor summoned police to their residences. Jefferson left behind a grieving family, including a nephew who saw her as a second mother. Kao’s widow struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts while raising their 3 children alone. She never remarried.
13 Names: Sureshbhai Patel, Wangsheng Leng + 11
Was it really necessary to break our unarmed elders’ necks?
In solidarity with Sureshbhai Patel and in memory of Wangsheng Leng. Both were unarmed elderly Asian men who had their necks broken by police officers in the United States, near or in their own homes. Mr Patel was visiting the U.S. to take care of his infant grandchild. He was paralyzed by the police encounter. Mr Leng, who had Alzheimer’s, died from his injuries.
13 Names: Charleena Lyles , Tommy Le + 11
Charleena Lyles and Tommy Le were two Washingtonians who died 5 days apart in 2017. Lyles, a pregnant mother of 4, was having a mental health crisis when she was shot by officers whom she had called to her home. Le was shot in the back when the pen that he was holding was mistaken for a knife.
In 2021, King County settled a civil rights lawsuit with Le’s family, and the city of Seattle settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Lyle’s family.
The purpose of saying the names of these victims of police violence is not to categorically blame law enforcement for everything that goes wrong during an encounter, but to ask us to consider alternatives that could have ensured both the safety of both civilians and responding officers. In this interview on the Hidden Brain, Yale psychologist Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff spoke of “scripts” that our society applies to interpreting reports of police violence. These scripts follow a specific genre “where the relative question is ‘how sinister is the officer? How deserving of death was the victim?'”
Dr Goff said, “These are terrible genres to help us write the narrative to get us out of here.” Instead of fixating on the intent and character of individual officers, Goff, who is CEO and co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, advocates for solutions that change behavior rather than change personal beliefs.