We are lifting up the work of our grant partners through a monthly spotlight series; for our November installment, we feature Love Not Blood Campaign with Co-Founder, Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson.
The Love Not Blood Campaign (LNBC) is a grassroots social justice organization that brings together families who have been impacted by police or communal violence. The LNBC provides compassionate, holistic care by creating space where these families can experience healing and build a powerful political movement for police accountability and transparency.
Through the Love Not Blood Campaign we are building a political movement to eliminate police violence and structural racism from our society and to support and embrace families impacted by police violence.
We have found that that healing and change come through hard work and tireless organizing. Through LNBC, we offer a holistic health experience that invites family members to share in healing through resistance organizing and movement building. Families support each other in their individual work and commit to coming together to create a police accountability movement that will reshape the criminal justice system to reach its full potential for justice and accountability. We believe that healing through resistance can play a powerful role in changing hearts and minds, ultimately shaping policy and practice. We will achieve our goals of healing and movement building through workshops and presentations that center on empowering these families to see past their individual pain to the need to vanquish societal pain and heal our communities.
Why are you personally a part of the Love Not Blood Campaign? What draws you to the work on a personal level?
One hour and thirty minutes before the murder of my nephew, Oscar Grant, on Jan. 1, 2009, Oscar was heavy on my spirit. I responded to this heaviness by texting him these words at 12:40 a.m: “Uncle Loves You, God Loves You, and God Loves your family.” At 2:11 a.m. Oscar was murdered by police officer Johannes Mehserle. When my sister called to say that Oscar had been shot, I did not know that he had been shot by the BART police.
As the details of the shooting begin to emerge, I did not understand why a police officer would shoot Oscar in the back. When I saw the video of my nephew lying face down, hands behind his back and the officer’s knee on his neck, and shot in the back, I passed out with enraged, destructive anger. As I regained consciousness I can clearly remember being filled with a calming spirit that overtook me with the remembrance of how blessed I was to have texted Oscar those words.
At that point I committed my life to this work of supporting families subjected to police violence. I began to attend every possible organizing meeting centered on the Oscar Grant movement, but none specifically focused on the trauma and pain experienced by the family. Nothing addressed the destructive anger that I had felt. No one was focusing on the steps a family needs to take to begin healing and learn to live with the reality of losing a loved one so tragically and possibly never getting justice. In August 2010, I founded the Oscar Grant Foundation to fill these gaps and as a legacy for Oscar Grant’s mother Wanda and daughter Tatiana. I asked Beatrice X Dale-Keeton, a community activist during the Oscar Grant movement, to become its first director. The two of us oversaw the Foundation for its first four years. As Oscar’s mother began her healing process, I felt she would be best positioned to direct her son’s legacy. On July 14, 2014, I turned the Foundation over to my sister, Wanda Johnson, and Oscar’s daughter, Tatiana. On that same date, the Love Not Blood Campaign was born to continue the work we started in the Oscar Grant Foundation to offer mental health and other support services for families subjected to police and community violence and mass incarceration.
How does this event affirm and celebrate the collective memory, shared histories, social identities, and cultures of Oakland’s communities of color?
Spending time and breaking bread together is our most powerful tool in eliminating loneliness and isolation, especially during the holiday season. We have found that community dinners do not simply eliminate loneliness and isolation but serve to build love and unity and strength to carry on, fulfilling our motto, “Bonded by Blood, United in Love.” At these gatherings many find new hope in their struggle for justice. The Impacted Families Dinner and healing space will affirm and celebrate the collective memory of our lost loved ones, thereby building that unity of love that we all need so desperately.