Please join us for the latest Human Rights Speaker Series, hosted by the University of Essex Human Rights Centre and the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub.
In recent years, more critical research and advocacy has focused on the human rights impact of law enforcement-led responses to mental health crises. In the United States, the human rights consequences of armed police responding to a person experiencing mental health crisis mirror the broader patterns of structural violence perpetrated against communities, specifically people of colour and people with psycho-social disabilities.
Evidence is now clear that these deaths, detentions, and forced hospitalisations are preventable and that workable solutions do exist. In some parts of the country, communities have constructed innovative, localised and transformative solutions that embody a rights-based approach to supporting people in crisis. We are honoured to have one of the leading voices in this community-led movement join us to reflect on the origins of Mental Health First, a community run crisis response programme in California.
The conversation with Cat Brooks will look at how human rights plays a central role in MHFirst’s design and practice and what this means for the broader movement towards community healing and social justice.
Cat Brooks has been a force for change as she engages in the work of accompaniment and struggle. Inspired by her own lived experience, she has spent her life organizing to bring an end to unjust systems which were built to sustain the privileges of the status quo.
She played a central role in the struggle for justice for Oscar Grant and is the co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) whose mission is to rapidly respond to and ultimately eradicate state violence in communities of color. With APTP she shepherded the development of a “First Responders” process which provides resources and training for a rapid community-based response to police violence. This model is currently being replicated across the state of California and the country.
Cat currently serves as the Executive Director of the Justice Teams Network, a network of grassroots activists providing rapid response and healing justice in response to all forms of State violence across California. In addition, she is touring her one-woman show, Tasha, about the in-custody murder of Natasha McKenna in the Fairfax County Jail. And, in late 2018, Cat was the runner up in the Oakland mayoral race. She lives in West Oakland with her daughter
Julie Hannah is a Lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Essex. She is also Director of the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy based at the Human Rights Centre, and co-founder of the Centre for Mental Health, Human Rights, and Social Justice, a global research consortium.