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Justice for Jordan Edwards

Last year, our hearts broke as we heard the story of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards being shot and killed by Balch Springs, TX Officer Roy Oliver.  By all accounts, Jordan was what we call the “perfect victim. He was leaving a teenage party as a passenger in a car with friends. He was unarmed, baby-faced, drug-free, a high school freshman who was a straight A student, and did not have a confrontation with police. In fact, he did what we would all tell our sons to do when shots ring out within earshot -- avoid trouble and leave the scene. As Jordan and friends backed out of the driveway after hearing shots fired from a nearby parking lot, Officer Roy Oliver deemed them an immediate threat and fired his rifle into the car window, killing young Jordan Edwards, who was a front seat passenger.

Despite these very clear facts, we, moms of Black boys nationwide, still sat on pins and needles as we watched the case unfold. We’d seen this story too many times before. Overzealous officer shoots and kills innocent, unarmed Black male, says he “feared for his life,” then gets off scot free, even with overwhelming video evidence. MOBB United for Social Change jumped in immediately, connecting with Edwards’ family’s attorney and sending Dallas MOBB Chapter Leader Peggy Bruns to speak on our behalf at the initial press conference and to rally Dallas MOBBs to continue to speak out on the case.

We deployed our rapid response team to mobilize moms nationwide to call the D.A.’s office to press for Oliver to be fired, to push for an immediate investigation and prosecution, and most importantly to push the police department to make critical reforms, including implicit bias training and de-escalation training. This case MATTERED to us -- a lot. If we couldn’t get justice for a case as clear as Jordan Edwards, there was little hope of ever seeing police accountability for unarmed Black males.

Yesterday, the arc of justice seemed to bend in the favor of innocents - Black boys and men, whose murders by police officers have historically lacked accountability. Typically lost to excessive violence at the hand of law enforcement with a justice system that sympathizes with the aggressors and persecutes the victims, the seemingly unthinkable happened. Officer Roy Oliver was found GUILTY by a Dallas jury for the murder of Jordan Edwards.

This verdict should be celebrated. It represents progress. It is also a testament to all of the advocacy that many citizens and organizations, including ours, have been engaged in around police brutality and lack of accountability for years. We must continue to push for justice by raising our voices - at every instance of excessive force and violence, and especially so at the ballot box, during this upcoming midterm elections. What justice we can't get at the bench, we will obtain through our voices and votes. We applaud the jury for having the courage and wisdom to deliver a just verdict, Oliver’s partner Tyler Gross for speaking truthfully about what happened that night and the Balch Springs Police department for effectively deploying the use of body cameras, which played a critical role in this case. And although Jordan Edwards was the perfect victim, our sons shouldn’t have to be perfect for their lives to matter.

This is why we must remain ever vigilant in the fight for justice and accountability. We will continue to press forward to demand that society not perceive our sons as threats -- and to press for systemic reforms so that law enforcement officials everywhere are trained, abide by their sworn duty to serve and protect, and where they fall short, are held accountable.

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