As Judge Rules on Side of Injustice, Family of Kayla Moore Vows to Continue Fight with Appeal

To all Kayla Moore supporters,

As you may know by now, Federal Court Judge Charles Breyer recently ruled in favor of the City of Berkeley and dismissed the case brought by the family of Kayla Moore. The judge thinks that we don’t have enough evidence to prove that the police “mistook her disability for a crime”. (See full ruling here, but content warning for transphobia and misgendering of Kayla). It was already so disgraceful that the judge threw out the claims of excessive force and wrongful arrest back in October of 2017. This most recent discarding of the humanity of people with disabilities is also what we are up against. Maybe this is actually better because now we can go back to the arguments about all three of the main claims and widen this movement back up again.

Yes it hurts. Yes it is outrageous. Yes, we are disappointed, but you know we will never give up. So hell yes, we will appeal. This case is strong and they only win if we give up and we will never give up our fight for justice. They say it will take two years to get back into a courtroom, but that’s okay. It’s been five years that we have been struggling for justice. Kayla’s family has been relentlessly attending workshops and public spaces and speaking out about Kayla Moore and the disregard and the hate that caused her death. We will continue to fight for the rights of those with mental health disabilities, transgender women, African Americans, and all of us. We will not be deterred by a biased justice system, or a corrupt, oppressive, decaying governmental structure that is falling down all around us.

We must hang on to our beautiful vision of justice and fight for it each day… and to that end, we invite you to join us in the coming weeks at two events to celebrate Kayla’s life:

TUESDAY, April 17: A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR KAYLA MOORE

6 p.m. – 9 p.m. @ Martin Luther King Jr. Park (Near Allston Way), Berkeley

We invite you to a party in celebration of what would have been. Help us celebrate Kayla Moore’s 47th birthday! Five years have passed since Berkeley police killed Kayla. Let’s celebrate her life, keep her memory alive, and #SayHerName.

Check out the Facebook Event page!

SUNDAY, April 15: BIRTHDAY ART BUILD

11 a.m. – 3 p.m. @ the Grassroots House (2022 Blake St. in Berkeley)

Help us make art for Kayla’s Birthday celebration! There will be materials to make posters and other decorations, but feel free to bring your own materials to add your own flare! Find the Facebook Event page here!

 

Reportback from Court, 10/18/2017: Family and Supporters Fight On as City Aims to Evade Responsibility

On Wednesday October 18, more than two dozen folks showed up to attend what was supposed to be a final pretrial evidentiary hearing before the Moore family’s trial start-date. We gathered outside beforehand for a few words from Maria Moore and from Rev. Terry De Grace Morris. We then went into court, expecting the judge, Charles Breyer, to rule on what types of evidence would be fair game for each legal team to use in court, including which witnesses could be called in. Instead, the judge announced that the day’s evidentiary hearing would be postponed, along with the trial dates, until a to-be-determined date.

Wednesday’s hearing was just the latest in delay after delay from the City’s attorneys, trying to sweep Kayla’s life, and her death, under the rug. At court Wednesday we learned that:

  • The City has filed a memo which, according to the judge, is essentially a motion to have the case dismissed. The family’s legal team will have the chance to respond to the memo, but if the judge ends up siding with the City, he will call off the case.
  • From the start of the case, the City failed to provide the family’s lawyer with a clearly crucial document, BPD’s own ADA policy.
  • Before the case even makes it before a jury, the family’s lawyer is being asked not only to identify accommodations which officers could have made for Kayla, but also to outline precisely how those accommodations would have made a difference in the outcome of BPD’s encounter with Kayla.

After four years of the Moore family awaiting their jury trial, it is infuriating that the City is delaying things further, placing the burden of proof on the family’s lawyer to answer the question: How could accommodations have saved Kayla’s life? The answer is simple: Anyone knowledgeable about mental health knows that a compassionate response to crisis saves lives. Kayla would be alive today if the City had provided a truly appropriate accommodation: an alternative dispatch, entirely independent from the police department, that sends community-based compassionate responders would have ensured that Kayla got the care she needed.

We can’t be too shocked that the City continues to try and shut down our struggle for justice, for acknowledgement, and for resources—separate from police—that offer actual care and support. Nor are we shocked that the judge says he is hesitant to move forward with the trial because it will be “expensive,” rather than recognizing how essential this case if from a justice standpoint. But we can be sure that we’ll keep fighting—for our lives, for our communities, and for Kayla, who, in any just, compassionate and disability-affirming city, would still be here with us today.

With the trial dates up in the air yet again, we encourage you to sign up for text alerts! We need to be ready to show up, once the dates get announced.

Text JUSTICE4KAYLA to 33222 to be notified of dates/times once they get announced!

Support the Moore Family in Court & Beyond

Please join us in supporting the Moore family and demanding an end to the continued criminalization of and violence against Black, trans and disabled people in our communities.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Get ready to show up for court support – Stay tuned to find out about new court dates/times as soon as they are announced:
  • Provide or request rides, food and accessibility support  – Sign up here noting the types of support you need or can offer and we’ll check with you about your availability once we know the court dates.
  • Come to meetings: Contact justice4kaylamoore@gmail.com for more information.

Berkeley Police and the “Pinkwashing” of Lethal Transphobia

Solidarity to comrades in Washington D.C. who called out policing as the racist, transphobic, toxic institution that it is.  #NoJusticeNoPride

At first blush, it seems like a wonderful step forward. In a June 1st memo, Berkeley police were being encouraged by their chief to take a stand for LGBTQ rights. According to the memo from Chief Greenwood, BPD was going to display a Pride flag in the lobby of the Public Safety building, encourage sworn officers to wear Pride lapel pins, and the BPD would be marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade, in uniform, right behind the SFPD contingent.

This all seems so marvelous and progressive! Who could criticize such a robust display of support? However, when asked questions to find the substance behind this, the show of support becomes, well… just a show.
At the June 14th Police Review Commission meeting, the chief was asked whether officers were being paid to attend the event in uniform or not. The chief replied, “I don’t know”. (Doesn’t know or doesn’t want to say?) The chief was also asked whether this display represented any new trainings or professional development for officers – that is, whether this display of supposed support would translate into any tangible benefits for Berkeley’s LGBTQ communities. He said “no”.

One can only wonder whether this display of “support” is being done in an effort to pinkwash the department’s reputation before the start of the trial of BPD officers in the in-custody death of Kayla Moore which is scheduled to begin in October. Kayla Moore was an African American, transgender woman who was killed in her own home by BPD officers on February 13th 2013.

The crimes against Kayla were appalling and activists are convinced that the gross disregard for her life and her rights was due, in part, to the transphobia of officers who referred to Kayla using a transphobic slur as she lay dying after being abused by BPD officers. Her pleas for help were ignored as officers turned a plea for assistance from a friend of Kayla’s into a death sentence.

Join the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition this Friday at the SF Trans March, where we’ll be lifting up our pride in trans resistance and true community support and safety – NOT pride in the police departments that criminalize, traumatize and destroy the lives of so many trans people of color. Check out and share our contingent event page on Facebook!

***And don’t forget to visit the OFFICIAL TRANS MARCH event page as well, and read the GUIDELINES for attendees, especially allies!***

Tell the City of Berkeley: Mental Health Crisis is NOT a Crime!

This Thursday, the Berkeley Mental Health Commission will be hearing input on the city’s plan for what to do with Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds, which total $25 million dollars over a 3 year period.

Join the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition in urging the MHSA Advisory Committee and the City as a whole to direct these funds toward mental health services that decriminalize mental illness and disabilities.

Send this sample email to send to Karen Klatt, MHSA Coordinator, by THIS THURSDAY, JUNE 22nd. We encourage you to add your own experiences and input:

Dear Ms. Klatt,

It is time to stop criminalizing mental health disabilities in Berkeley. I urge the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Advisory Committee to incorporate this goal into the MHSA 3-Year Plan and to fund programs that limit police interaction with consumers and instead offer non-police responses to meet our community’s mental health needs.

Berkeley mental health resources are currently so lacking that crisis support often falls to the police. In fact, 35% of Berkeley police calls are mental health related. When police officers respond to a mental health crisis, they bring weapons, dangerous restraints and a militaristic attitude to a situation that calls for a social worker or counselor trained in de-escalation and emotional support. While Berkeley is home to many skilled community members with countless hours of mental health intervention training, we regularly rely on police officers who complete a mere eight-hour training. It is not common sense to count on police to provide mental health care.

When we use police as first responders to crisis, we risk the lives of dear community members. According to a 2015 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a person with a mental health disability is 16 times more likely than another civilian to be killed by police when approached by law enforcement. Here in Berkeley, Kayla Moore was killed by BPD officers in 2013 while she was in crisis.

Our city relies heavily on the police to intervene in crises, in part due to the misconception that people with mental health disabilities are violent. Most people with mental health disabilities are not violent, and are in fact more likely than the general population to be victims of violence, whether that be in their homes, on the streets or at the hands of police officers. When Berkeley police killed Kayla Moore, she was in her own home, cooking dinner, accompanied by a caretaker, posing a danger to no one. With appropriate mental health services in Berkeley, Kayla’s tragic death could have been avoided.

Minimizing contact with the police would also minimize contact with the further-traumatizing criminal justice system. Twenty to twenty-five percent of individuals jailed in Alameda County live with at least one mental health disability. Berkeley’s model of police-first crisis response means that individuals in need of care and crisis support instead get locked up and further traumatized. This traumatization costs our city far more in the long run than preventive care.

Berkeley’s lack of accessible, preventative mental health services means that individuals in need get cops and jails instead of care. It’s time for Berkeley’s mental health programs to prioritize community support and minimize police involvement. The MHSA 3-Year Plan can lead us forward on this path by incorporating the following:

  • 24-hour crisis response team, accessed via independent non-police dispatch, consisting of peers with lived experience and mental health professionals.
    (Refer to the work of CAHOOTS in Eugene, OR)
  • Permanent low- and no-income supportive housing that connects individuals with a mental health support system to help prevent and respond to crisis, minimizing risk of police contact.
  • Community education to train Berkeley residents, workers and businesses in mental health basics and crisis response skills in order to reduce unnecessary calls to 911. (Refer to Mental Health Association of SF’s Supportive Crisis Response Training, EmotionalCPR, and Concrn’s volunteer-based crisis response in SF)
  • Commitment to hire peers in staff and leadership positions in all MHSA programs, including the Homeless Outreach Team.

We cannot allow another tragedy like Kayla’s to happen in our city. Please consider incorporating these comments into the mental health plan.

Sincerely,

Name:______________________________________________________________
Phone:_________________________
Email:______________________________________________________
Neighborhood/Zip code/Address:__________________________________________

Coming Soon! What Can Mental Health Crisis Response Look Like Without Police?

On Saturday, April 8th, join the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition and Berkeley Copwatch for a forum featuring individuals and organizations who are fighting for, building and living out mental health alternatives to the police. We will also discuss next steps for our campaign to fight for changes in how our communities and the City of Berkeley approach mental health crises. Come at 12:30pm in time for refreshments and to check out tables from community groups!

See you on the 8th! Here are details:

Responding to Mental Health Crises without Berkeley Police: A Community Forum
~Click here for Facebook Event~
When: Saturday, April 8, 2017, 12:30pm – 4:30pm
Where: 1924 Cedar St, Berkeley (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists)
~ Refreshments provided ~ Wheelchair accessible ~
~ Low-scent space (please refrain from wearing scented products) ~

Accessibility info: The space is wheelchair accessible and we will have a scent-free seating area during the large-group portion of the event. Please contact us (see below) by March 31st to let us know what your access needs are.

Need a ride? Contact us (info below) to check availability of rides from North Berkeley BART or downtown Berkeley. We want you to be able to come – please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Contact: justice4kaylamoore@gmail.com | 510-224-5950 facebook.com/justice4kaylamoore

TRIAL TO BEGIN OCT 23 2017 AS MOORE FAMILY SEEKS JUSTICE

March 17, 2017, San Francisco – This morning, we gathered in court with the Moore family to hear the long-awaited announcement of the start date in the family’s suit against the City of Berkeley and the BPD officers who were responsible for criminalizing, unjustly arresting, and killing Kayla Moore in 2013.

kayla

The family will head to court on October 23, 2017, with a final pre-trial conference to take place first on October 17. Save those dates so we can be there in full supportive force on October 23rd! The judge expects the trial to last 5 days.

In the meantime, the struggle continues outside the court. Please join us on April 8th as we gather to learn and share knowledge about mental health alternatives to the police. (See details on Facebook.)

As the family’s lawyers will be illustrating in court,  BPD officers failed to accommodate Kayla’s mental health disability. With 35% of Berkeley police calls related to mental health, this failure occurs on a daily basis and we’ve had enough. Join us on April 8th to shift the conversation: We don’t just want training for cops, we want to end the practice of using police as first responders in the first place. It’s time for crisis support that offers care, not violent and deadly criminalization.

An Update on the Kayla Moore Case: Trial Start Date to be Announced THIS Friday!

A person stands in a crowd holding a sign that reads "Justice for Kayla Moore." On the sign is a simple drawing of Kayla Moore. In the drawing, Kayla is smiling, with hair pulled back and two thin braids framing her face.

First off, hope to see folks on the Moore family’s next court date, this Friday! Check out the Facebook event here. Secondly, with a final pre-trial court date approaching this Friday, here are a few updates on the status of the Moore family’s case:

Which parts of the case will the judge hear?

Last year, the City of Berkeley’s lawyer filed a “motion for summary judgment” to try and get the family’s case thrown out – and out of public sight – before even going to trial. In October, Judge Breyer made an initial decision to partly grant this motion by throwing out all but one of the family’s claims. Refusing to accept this compromised form of justice, the Moore family filed an appeal, insisting that the judge hear the full case. Recently, Judge Breyer announced his decision NOT to grant the family’s appeal. So, unfortunately and incomprehensibly, this means that in this trial the judge will not look at Berkeley cops’ use of excessive force, or at their use of a faulty, unconfirmed warrant. However, the Judge will still be hearing the case. He will look at the very important remaining claim, which centers on how the cops involved violated the ADA by violently interacting with Kayla instead of accommodating her mental health disability, schizophrenia. Given the widespread police violence against people with disabilities, this case could set an important precedent against ableist police terror if the judge decides in the family’s favor. So, we’ll need to pack that court room during the trial!

What will happen in court on Friday?

This Friday, we expect the judge to announce the trial start date and to decide if the trial will havea jury or be heard by the judge alone. So, this will be a very important day after four long years of waiting. Please join us Friday morning at 8 A.M. to be with the Moore family in court. And don’t forget to share the Facebook event: page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804532976462772/

Thank you for your support and hope to see you in court on Friday and once the trial begins in the coming months!

10/17 Court Support Update: The Fight Continues in – and Out – of the Courtroom

A circle of community members stands in front of a court building. Rev. Daniel Buford, a Black man wearing a suit, speaks to the crowd.Thank you to everyone who was present for court support today, in person and in spirit.

The update is that Judge Breyer has made a preliminary decision on the City’s motion to dismiss. He is planning to dismiss the family’s claims of excessive force and wrongful arrest, but WILL proceed with hearing the case, focusing on the piece of the lawsuit relating to how BPD officers violated the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) by failing to accommodate  Kayla’s mental health disability, schizophrenia.

The lawyers have been given more time to prep their arguments and NOVEMBER 18TH is the tentative date when we will return to court.

We had a very brief moment in the actual courtroom on Monday 10/17, since the judge had already made his mind up to dismiss so much of the case. The injustice of the “justice” system is maddening, yet not surprising.

Still, the remaining ADA claim is a crucial element. So, we’ll be back in court! It is crystal clear to us that the officers failed to respect, value and accommodate Kayla’s full identity – *including* her disability.

And, the fight for Justice for Kayla and all Black, trans, disabled people most certainly also continues outside of court. As 50 or so of us gathered outside of the court, we readied for that continuing struggle. We need to continue to fight for community-run mental health resources in Berkeley and beyond and for liberation for all Black trans women in life as well as as death (as Janetta Johnson urged us).

Big thanks to Janetta Johnson (TGI Justice Project), Akira Jackson (of TAJA’s Coalition), Gilda Baker (Mother of Diallo Neal), Rev. Daniel Buford (Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute), Antoinette Gaggero (Open Circle – Families United for Justice), La Mesha Irizarry (mother of Idriss Stelley) and Al Osorio for speaking on all of these important issues and more today.

Stay tuned here, on Facebook, and via our email list for details about upcoming events and the next court date.

Friday, 9/23: Court Support in S.F. – Resist the Motion to Dismiss!

Where: Federal Bldg, Floor 17, Court 6 (Judge Breyer), 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco
When: 9am for coffee & food, 10 am hearing begins
Instead of moving towards accountability, the City of Berkeley is shamefully shirking responsibility and filing a motion to dismiss the case. Make sure the judge hears our community’s voice saying that Kayla’s life and memory matter! This case needs to be heard.
More info: See Facebook event