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Petition Demands Justice for Jamarion Robinson, a Black Man With Schizophrenia Killed by Police

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Editor's Note

The following post contains upsetting details about the murder of a Black man.

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On Aug. 5, 2016, Jamarion Robinson, a student athlete diagnosed with schizophrenia, was killed by a task force of police officers in Atlanta. The 26-year-old was shot 76 times. While the official report says Robinson had a gun when officers shot him, additional evidence suggests otherwise. Now advocates, led by Robinson’s mother Monteria, are again calling for justice for Jamarion Robinson.

Two days before Jamarion’s death, his mother told Al Jazeera that Atlanta Police Department (APD) officer Steve O’Hare called to ask where her son was. Monteria was told police wanted to follow up about an incident a month earlier where Jamarion had poured gas in her home. Monteria told the officer Jamarion had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was not taking his medications. She also provided the phone number for Jamarion’s girlfriend, where he was staying.

“I told him that he was a good kid, but he was suffering from a mental illness,” Monteria told Al Jazeera. “I was making plans to meet with the police and solve the issue because Jamarion was planning to return to school.”

Two days later, a total of 15 police officers from Atlanta-area police forces and the U.S. Marshals Service stormed Jamarion’s girlfriend’s apartment. Officers said they had a warrant alleging Jamarion pointed a gun at Atlanta officers two weeks before, which his mother believes was a case of mistaken identity.

An official report published by the U.S. Department of Justice suggested Jamarion also pointed a gun at officers when they entered the apartment. An independent investigation conducted for a civil case, however, reported a gun found at the apartment wasn’t operational and didn’t have Jamarion’s prints on it.

Once officers entered the apartment, some armed with submachine guns, they fired 99 times at Jamarion and threw a flashbang. Officers allegedly delayed calling for medical help for hours in addition to dragging his body. There’s no body camera footage of the event.

Evidence shows that people with a mental illness are less likely to be violent toward others. A 2018 report authored by Emma Frankham found that people with mental illness were less likely to have a projectile weapon or attack police at the time of confrontation. Regardless, they’re still more likely to be killed by police. Approximately 25% of those killed in police shootings had a mental illness.

Frankham highlighted in her report that people with a serious mental illness may not be able to comply with officer instructions. Police are then trained to double down to ensure people comply — making it more likely they will use deadly force. Mental health advocates have been leading a conversation for years about why police respond to mental health emergencies in the first place.

In addition, the repeated murder of Black people by police and the systemic racism it represents  takes a major toll on the mental health of the Black community. Mapping Police Violence found that 28% of people killed by police are Black, while only 13% of the population is Black. The risk of a fatal police encounter a justified anxiety for Black families across the U.S. And seeing the violence play out on the news and online is traumatic.

“I, as a young Black woman, have noticed this emotional and mental strain happen to me this past couple of weeks, as I went through a load of various emotions,” wrote Mighty contributor Nikki Opara. “I went from being in shock, to sad, to fearful, to angry, to overwhelmed with passion for change, back to being sad, to shocked, to almost wanting to put a few people in their place, if I’m being completely honest.”

Jamarion’s mom expressed the impact of fighting for justice for her son while also trying to grieve his loss four years later has also taken a toll on her mental health.

“I have anxiety every single day and I only have a few hours of sleep each night,” Robinson told Al Jazeera. “Those officers are going home to their families each day; they’re sleeping fine and resting. I haven’t been able to rest for four years.”

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Please amplify Black voices and share widely!   Jamarion Robinson was murdered viciously and shot 76 times and killed by police four years ago. There has been no accountability & no justice for Jamarion. Let's change that.   Jamarion's family needs to meet their goal of 100,000 signatures on their White House petition by September 7th to receive an official response.   Please go to the link in the slide & sign the petition.   Be sure to follow @justiceforjamarion for updates.   Thanks to @soyouwanttotalkabout for including me in this collaboration.   #fuckthepolice #defundthepolice #injustice #injustice2 #africanamerican #blacklivesmatter #blacklivesmatter✊???? #blm #blackwomen #bipoc #justice #artivism #artivism #policebrutality #policereform #defundthepolice #policearemurderers #acab #jacobblake #justiceforjacobblake #justiceforbreonnataylor #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaud #justiceforelijahmcclain #justiceforjamarion #jamarionrobinson

A post shared by ALEX ALBADREE [POC/HE/THEY] (@alex.albadree) on

As of yet, none of the 15 officers present at the time of Jamarion’s death have been charged. Despite mounting evidence that officers used excessive force in Jamarion’s case, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has “dragged his feet” prosecuting any of the officers involved in Jamarion’s killings, Monteria said.

“This case has been going on for four years and all the evidence is there,” Robinson told Al Jazeera. “Why would these officers still be patrolling our communities when they executed my son? And look, they’re still killing people. We shouldn’t have to build a whole social movement to get these people to do their jobs.”

Advocates are now demanding Justice for Jamarion online to hold the officers who killed him accountable. A petition to the White House regarding Jamarion’s case has so far collected more than 115,000 signatures. It demands the officers are charged immediately, along with other police reforms like abolishing the no-knock warrant and abolishing qualified immunity.

“Every time we saw [Jamarion] he would always pick us up and spin us around and joke with us. He was smart, loving and giving,” Monteria said. “If he had $20 and someone didn’t have any money he would give them $10. That’s just the kind of person he was.”

You can add your name to the petition to demand Justice for Jamarion here.

Header image via Alex Albadree/Instagram

Originally published: September 1, 2020
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