Families of police shooting victims stop in Memphis to talk empowerment

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.  — Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and Oscar Grant are just three of the men killed by police in the country, and this weekend their families are in Memphis for what they’re calling a Weekend of Empowerment.

At the first event at Rhodes College on Friday, they said they’re trying to spark conversation about police violence in black communities.

Families who have lost loved ones to police violence gathered to preach Power in Pain and to try to turn their heartbreak into something positive.

“The families can come together to tell everybody, the community and the city, how they were able to turn their pain into power, and what we can do in the community to bring justice to them and hold the officers accountable," said Jennifer Cain, CEO of B.L.I.N.D.

“It has to stop," Rhodes College associate director Stephanie Cage said. "That is the message we want to get out. It has to stop. People need to take actions. Stop being silent on issues that matter.”

The families of violence victims like Michael Brown, Alton Sterling and Oscar Grant said that dialogue is happening, and progress is occurring, but it’s happening too slowly. They visit cities like Memphis to help push for change and unification.

"Things should be expedited," said John Crawford Jr., father of John Crawford III, who was shot dead by police in Ohio in 2014. "With all the technology and all the tools that we have today, a lot of these cases should not exist. They should be done by now.”

While acknowledging that the wheels of justice turn slowly, Pain into Power leaders are hopeful that by raising awareness and unifying communities, they’ll further a difficult but necessary movement.

“It’s a good thing,": Cain said. "That’s the whole goal, everybody coming together. That’s the goal. You have to start somewhere, and you have to start by the conversation. This is not a comfortable conversation to have.”

There will be another event Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Orange Mound Gallery at 2230 Lamar Ave. The event is a tribute to Michael Brown, Jr., who was killed in Ferguson, Missouri.

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