Social Justice

5 Things To Do This Week To Demand Justice For Daniel Prude

How to support alternatives to calling the police for people in mental health crisis.

With so much going on in the world, it can be hard to figure out where to send your energies — both emotional and physical — to make change. You know you can't pour from an empty cup, but if you've got some space to devote to the world, you might want to get involved. This week, you can devote some energy to creating justice for Daniel Prude, who was killed by police while having a mental health crisis in late March in Rochester, NY.

Consider using your screen time to demand accountability for Prude's killing, which was ruled a homicide, with NPR reporting that all officers involved have been suspended without pay. Get involved with local organizations that create alternatives to calling the police for people in a mental health crisis. Make sure you vote to get your voice heard on access to mental health care. If you can, donate to Prude's family. Talking to the folks in your life about how police should not be first responders to mental health crises might not be fun, but conversations like these are how changes get made.

Below, you'll find volunteering opportunities, talking points about mental health justice, a petition to sign, and more so that you can contribute to the movement in your own way.

1
Donate To Daniel Prude's Family

Though Prude was killed in March of this year, bodycam footage showing his death was just released, sparking protests in Rochester and elsewhere. "Everything that they did, they didn't have to do," Prude's brother, Joe, who had called 911 to help locate his brother after he was released from a local hospital, told NPR, of the police. "I didn't call them to come help my brother die," Joe Prude said. "I called them to come help me get my brother some help."

Free The People Roc, a movement stemming from Rochester Black Lives Matter protests, has organized a GoFundMe for Daniel Prude's family, which you can donate to if you want to support them directly.

2
Talk To The People In Your Life About Alternatives To Calling 911

When someone is in trouble, or sees someone who is, calling 911 is often their first impulse. But advocates say that if mental health professionals had arrived at the scene where Daniel Prude was experiencing a crisis, he would likely be alive. So what do you tell your uncle who says there's no alternative to calling the cops?

As VICE reports, police are trained in restraint, not mental health care. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, police on average receive only eight hours of training in crisis intervention techniques, whereas they spend an average of 60 hours learning to use guns. On the flip side, mental health first responders are trained to de-escalate conflict and get the person to a safe location, rather than restraining them. Talk to your loved ones about ways they can get people help other than calling the cops — more on that below — and why it's important to know the options.

3
Know What Local Organizations Offer Crisis Response That Doesn't Involve Police

From the Denver Alliance for Street Health Response to Portland Street Response, there are likely organizations or programs in your city or state that offer crisis response that doesn't involve calling the police. Sometimes, these organizations aren't explicitly about mental health crisis de-escalation, so you might have to be creative in how you look for them. For example, the Center for Community Solutions in San Diego provides community-based safety nets for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Many of these organizations offer training in their crisis de-escalation methods, community education, or mental health first aid, which means if you encounter a person in crisis, you'll be prepared with tools to handle the situation, including getting the person professional help. See what programs organizations near you offer, or ways you can volunteer to support their missions.

4
Pledge To Vote For Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is encouraging voters to educate themselves about the mental health policies at play during this year's election. From equitable mental health care access to housing for people with mental illnesses, you can use NAMI's site to find out how local, state, and national political leaders impact the availability and quality of mental health treatment. Take their pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth here.

5
Sign This Petition For Trained Mental Health Professionals To Respond To Mental Health Crises

Sign this Color of Change petition to not only call for the officers who killed Daniel Prude to be arrested and charged, but also to advocate for the city of Rochester to ensure that trained mental health professionals, rather than police, respond to mental health crises. "The Mayor and City Council must pass legislation that requires trained medical/mental health professionals as first responders to medical calls," the petition reads. "Police are not equipped to respond to mental health crises. Trained medical and mental health professionals — not cops — should respond to medical calls."