Dear Decaturish – We need to remember Anthony HillDeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.
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On Monday, May 21st, we need to remember the name and life of Anthony Hill. On that day, the pretrial begins at the DeKalb County courthouse for police officer Robert Olsen who was indicted with two counts of felony murder and one count of aggravated assault in the shooting death of 27-year-old Hill, an African-American Air Force veteran on March 9, 2015 in Chamblee. Anthony Hill was naked and unarmed at the time of his murder and was living with post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder. He had been medically discharged from the Air Force two years before.
Due to persistent organizing efforts including a camp out for days in front of the courthouse by members of Black Lives Matter, RiseUp Georgia, and other community organizations, a criminal grand jury indicted Officer Olson on January 21, 2016. The indictment came down at a time when the issue of police killings had become a national issue and the Black Lives Matter movement had spread across the country. What is less well known is that a high number of these incidents, some say as high as half, involve people with disabilities.
In the fall of 2016, a small group of concerned residents began meeting in DeKalb County to study and learn more about the intersection between police killings and people living with disabilities. We learned about the Crisis Intervention Trainings that many police officers receive from the state of Georgia. We knew that Officer Olsen had received the training and that it had proven to not be effective in this case. We learned from the disability rights movement the concept of “Nothing About Us Without Us” which describes a process where those most affected not “experts” have the best answers on what should be done to resolve a problem.
We formed a new organization, “Us Protecting Us,” which is dedicated to educating the public on dealing with police interaction with people of color and persons that live with disabilities, training ourselves to handle our own crises without police intervention, demanding accountability for police officers who brutalize and murder us, and demanding better resources for people living with disabilities. We hope members of the Decatur/DeKalb community will come out to the trial to demand that justice be served. In addition, we hope you will join us in our efforts to create safe communities for all of our residents so that what happened to Anthony Hill will never happen again.
Us Protecting Us
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