US Human Rights Network Blog
“We are not safe in Fort Worth.” Justice for Atatiana Jefferson.Oct 17, 2019
Phoenix, AZ - Following the murder of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson in Forth Worth, Texas by police officer Aaron Dean, the US Human Rights Network released the following statement:
On Saturday, October 12, 2019, Atatiana (Tay) Jefferson was murdered by a Fort Worth Texas police officer. Tay was a 28-year-old Black woman who was housesitting for her mother while she was in the hospital. That evening, Tay was babysitting her 8-year-old nephew, Zion. Zion’s mother described Tay and Zion as best friends; they stayed up late that night playing video games. Their sleepover -- and Tay’s life -- was cut short when Aaron Dean, a white police officer, responded to a neighbor’s non-emergency call requesting a wellness check by fatally shooting Tay through her bedroom window, with young Zion as the witness to his aunt’s death.
Body cam footage shows that Dean patrolled the exterior of Jefferson’s home without announcing his presence, and upon seeing Ms. Jefferson through her window playing video games, he frantically shouted “put your hands up” and shot her in under two seconds -- all without identifying himself or giving her a chance to respond. Ms. Jefferson’s murder is a clear violation of multiple United Nations treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 3, the right to life, liberty, and security of person; and Article 7, the right to equality before the law. It is also in violation of the United Nations International Human Rights Standards for Law Enforcement.
Dean’s misconduct and failure to follow proper procedure and protocol led to the death of an innocent young woman, the lifelong trauma of a child, and the further breakdown of trust between an overpoliced community and a lethal police force. Ms. Jefferson’s death comes on the heels of six fatal police-involved shootings since June 2019 by Fort Worth Texas police, and less than two weeks after the setencing of white Dallas Texas police officer Amber Guyger in the murder of Botham Jean, an innocent Black man who was killed while eating ice cream in his own home.
The US Human Rights Network supports the Jefferson family in their demand for “swift and appropriate prosecution” of Aaron Dean. While the Network commends the Fort Worth Police for quickly charging Dean with the murder of Tay Jefferson, we recognize that ninety-nine percent of deadly force cases against police officers do not result in a conviction, and we insist that the public will not allow Dean to go free. Dean must be convicted and sentenced without leniency.
While the conviction of Dean is an essential step in the healing process for Ms. Jefferson’s family and community, his conviction will not end systemic police bias nor police violence against Black and brown bodies. The criminal justice system in the US systematically violates the human rights of people of color by disproportionately stopping, arresting, charging, incarcerating, and murdering people of color with impunity. The senseless murders of Tatiana Jefferson and Botham Jean, both of whom were simply enjoying their evenings in their own homes only to be intruded upon and killed by racially biased police officers, are two examples of too many cases of innocent Black folx murdered by police officers trained within a racially biased law enforcement system and a white supremacist society to perceive Black and brown bodies as threats to annihilate.
The US Human Rights Network echos the words of a Fort Worth community member who protested after Ms. Jefferson’s death, stating “We are not safe in Fort Worth.” Black and brown folx are not safe from a racist criminal justice system in the United States, a system rooted in enforcing the enslavement of African people and their descendents. In addition to calling for the swift prosecution of Aaron Dean, the USHRN continues our call for a federal overhaul of the racist, anti-Black criminal justice system in the US.
We stand with our members and member organizations who are working on the ground everyday to demand police accountability and criminal justice system overhaul. We will continue the fight to protect the human rights of Black and brown people, to fight for equal recognition of their human dignity, and to seek justice when their rights are violated. We will remember Atatiana Jefferson as the loving daughter, aunt, sister, friend, and community member who will live on in her family’s memory forever.
Statement of support from USHRN member Ron Davis (The Jordan Davis Foundation):
"As I pray for the family of Atatiana Jefferson, there is a feeling of remembering. I remember the well intentioned statements from members of the community, activists and organizers across the globe. Through sorrow and many restless nights, I came to realize that they all in their own way became attached to my pain and my family's pain.
Like my murdered son, Jordan Davis, most of those with this attachment have never met and will never truly know the victim.
So let's be clear, We mourn the victim who was affectionately known as "Tay" by her family but the much larger scope is the continued acceleration of White Domestic Terrorist shootings and killings of black and brown bodies that they do not value as having even the basic human rights to life and prosperity.
To Attorney Lee Merritt, Ft. Worth Activist Cory Hughes and The Family of Tay Jefferson, the US Human Rights Network stands with you as we respond to multiple violations of United Nations treaties as well as human rights standards for law enforcement.
We can not and will not accept anything less than transparency in prosecuting this case using an independent investigation team.
As a directly affected parent who continues to suffer the murder of a child, I give my support and condolences as I pray that her memories comfort you."
Our members are working on the ground to fight for criminal justice reform and to end police violence against People of African Descent. Please visit their websites below:
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