Everyone lost to gun violence is someone’s beloved. Beloved is a multi-media campaign exploring gun violence in-depth in four phases: The Problem of gun violence as a symptom of illness (or infection) caused by systemic inequality; The History of gun violence, root causes, and local and national data trends. The Solutions to end gun violence including King County Public Health’s regional approach to gun violence prevention and treatments; and finally, the ideation of a world without gun violence, The Beloved Community. The Beloved project is brought to you in partnership with Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Hope Corps program, King County’s Public Health team, Converge Media, Black Coffee Northwest, Toybox Consulting, Creative Justice, The Facts Newspaper, Forever Safe Spaces, Northwest African American Museum, Presidential Media, and the South Seattle Emerald.
I have more experience at the complex intersections of gun violence and the criminal justice system than most. Both my twin brother and I were shot and involved in the criminal legal system before age 21. My son was killed by a neighborhood friend. I have been the victim of interpersonal violence. And finally, the moment that jolted my family into action, and my life into activism: police killed my brother Che’ Taylor.
In response to outrage over Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal earlier this month, President Biden was among many voices insisting that “[t]he jury system works, and we have to abide by it.” The day of Rittenhouse’s acquittal, Twitter was flooded with posts urging people upset by the verdict to embrace jury duty as a solution.
I understand where this sentiment comes from. I also used to think the jury system worked — that taking on your civic duty with systemic inequity in mind could help mitigate injustice.
Last week, a 35-year-old man who had been released from jail less than one week earlier attacked a county employee in a women’s restroom at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. The assailant, a Level 1 sex offender with a history of attacking women, told detectives he had smoked “homemade meth” immediately before the attack. A police report filed after the incident indicates the attacker, who is a person experiencing homelessness, may suffer from mental illness.
The particulars of this case might lead a reasonable person to conclude that people who commit sex offenses need closer monitoring once they’re released from custody, along with access to housing and mental health care to prevent them from reoffending once they’re released.
Instead, the assault became a symbol for conservative officials, who suggested “solutions” that included sweeping dozens of homeless people from a nearby encampment and directing women to change the way they behave in public.