While working to support families going through the system we are exposed to the systemic holes many families get trapped in. We initially work with families to change these systems for our communities
Ending Juvenile Life In Tennessee
Thanks to all of Your Support TN has ended it's mandatory 51 year sentence!!! But can't stop here. We are still pushing to support our children in our community. Join us
Ending Money Bail
Arrest of Lisa Edwards
First, we want to give condolences to the family, friends, and all those who loved and knew Lisa Edwards. The tragic events that happened the day Lisa's life ended should never have to be endured by anyone.
On Monday, February 6, 2023, 60-year-old Lisa Edwards died following an arrest by officers of the Knoxville Police Department (KPD) in Knoxville, Tennessee. Lisa was discharged from Blount Memorial Hospital and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center despite requiring and pleading for medical attention. Lisa Edwards lost her life that day because of the lack of empathy, compassion, and respect the officers and security showed her and inadequate medical care.
A distressed person should be taken seriously, even when discharged from medical care. Human life is precious and sacred yet delicate. People, especially those charged with protecting and serving, should give the utmost care and concern to the most vulnerable people at every moment, primarily those seeking care and assistance. On Thursday, February 23, 2023, The Knoxville Police Department released the body cam footage of the incident. The footage displayed the disgusting behavior of the officers being cruel and degrading towards Lisa, not showing her a single thread of human decency while telling her the importance of oatmeal and coffee being more significant than the anguish she suffered during the last moments of her life.
At the beginning of the body cam footage, Lisa is sitting outside Fort Sanders in a wheelchair with all her belongings when the police officers approach her. Lisa informed the officers that she "shattered her ankle and had a stroke." After yelling at her to shut up, one officer demanded, "you’re gonna have to get up and figure out a way to get gone.” Officers then announced they would arrest Lisa and charge her with criminal trespassing. The officers led Lisa to the vehicle, where she repeatedly yelled in pain. Lisa stated, "I can't!" and "I can't breathe." Despite her cries for help, the officers continued detaining her, disregarding her desperate pleas for life. One officer said to her, "Okay it’s not working, okay, just stop; we are not doing this"; this was a callous indifference to her medical situation and obvious need for medical assistance. The same officer who initially degraded her told her, "Go and get in there and pass out and we'll be done with it." A different officer also stated, "She should have stayed on the other side of the river; uniforms all nasty from her," and "I was kind of thinking just leave her on the sidewalk with that white blanket over her, and everyone can go about their day."
This kind of treatment displays the cruelty and brutality that have become normalized in the culture of Knoxville law enforcement. Time and time again, law enforcement has shown its inability to serve and help the community but has become an expert at dehumanizing and abusing people while using the system to justify and absolve themselves of their actions. The treatment of Lisa is another example of how this system harms our families and community. Fact is, on this day, all Lisa needed to return to her family and those who loved her was care, dignity, and the basic recognition of her right to exist. From one human to another and as members of the Knox County community, we ask you to help us address the injustice and loss of another beautiful soul, Lisa Edwards. To the loved ones of Lisa Edwards: We stand with you in your fight for justice, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this.
The officers fired immediately.
Never be able to get another job as a public servant or government agent.
They want the DA to reopen the case and press charges.
In addition to the demands of the family we demand the Forfeiture of pension and retirement benefits from the Knoxville Police Department and/or police unions from the officers involved to compensate the family.
We demand Federal and State legislation implemented for a registry for law enforcement who have engaged in misconduct, including behaviors such as excessive force or other criminal activities, and can no longer work in the government or in a public safety capacity.
People first language
Policing and other systems have created a culture of dehumanization, leading to people being treated as less than human. We demand a change in wording for training materials, department materials, and websites. Using language that helps to eliminate stereotypes and emphasizes individuality, equality, and dignity.
Care Not Cuffs - Abolish the criminalization of people in need of care
It's because Lisa died that the footage was released, and we saw the way she was treated. KPD has responded to at least 17 trespassing complaints at local hospitals in the last year. We can only speculate as to the treatment other individuals received.
The community demands Fort Sanders and other area hospitals to review your training and policies governing if and when to involve police and work to find better solutions. Further, ensure the practices of your contracted security align with your healthcare mission and duty to the people you serve.
Whether a person has a physical disability and needs medical attention or has a cognitive disability and is experiencing a mental health crisis, you are obligated to see to the safety of those in your care and to plan for their safety upon discharge. Discharging a person in any crisis to the police is fundamentally unsafe, and any policies calling for this are actively harming people.
We demand KPD mandate comprehensive training for all officers on interacting with individuals with disabilities in ways that respect their dignity. In addition, KPD should ensure your policies center the sanctity of life, require officers to intervene in all forms of abuse by other officers, and provide prompt medical assistance to anyone who says they need it.
We also demand KPD make a much greater effort to divert people to other service providers before and away from jail after arrest. KPD is responsible for reviewing charging decisions involving people in crisis. You must also create charging guidelines that avoid criminal charges against people experiencing crisis whenever possible, especially in cases where patients pose minimal to no risk to public safety.
The first step to ensuring that this never happens again is to remove arrest as the default option for a person who refuses to leave the hospital. The second step is to create the capacity for a non-law enforcement response and triage, such as the city fully funding a non-law enforcement crisis/street response, such as called for by Knoxville HEART.