Oppression is defined as the state of prolonged cruel and unjust treatment or control. Systems of family policing are overlooked by the general American public as a form of oppression because they execute their coercive and often absolute and unchecked control under the illusion of “strengthening families” and “saving poor and abused children”. But the truth of the matter is that these are systems of often extreme injustice which yield almost absolute power over their subjects, most commonly noncustodial parents and children.
The vast majority of those trapped in the Child Welfare/Foster Care system and those criminalized and marginalized due to Child Support debt committed no crimes to end up in these systems. Those trapped in systems of family policing are afforded far less rights or recourse than their counterparts in the criminal justice system. Once trapped in these systems, victims often have nowhere to go and very little social support.
Ma'Khia Bryant, Walter Scott, and Felicia Brent-Velasquez are all dead today because they attempted to flee from the coercive control of the CPS/foster care and family court/child support systems.
Ma'Khia Bryant was a 16 year old under the supervision of Clark County Children's Services, trying desperately to escape from her circumstances. On April 20, 2021 she called 911 begging for help. "I want to leave this foster home," she said. According to reports, she was "irate" and "brandishing a knife" by the time cops arrived on scene. Bryant was shot dead by the cops. Walter Scott was 50 years old when he ran from cops after being pulled over for a broken brake light. Scott was shot dead by the cops. Scott's reason for running was the bench warrant out for his arrest due to $13,000 in unpaid child support debt. And, in 2019 right here in Sacramento Felicia Brent-Velasquez, a foster youth under, died in a vehicular accident after going AWOL from a group home facility.
Although Bryant, Scott, and Velasquez have never met, they have a lot in common. They were all poor and all victims of abusive circumstances far out of their control, perpetrated upon them by systems of family policing. They wanted out. And for all three, there was no way out. Pushed to the edge with no options and nowhere to go, they all died while running from situations with no end in sight. The fear, desperation, and struggle that Scott, Bryant, and Brent-Velasquez endured in the moments leading up to their tragic deaths is indicative of the plight and struggle universal to so many trapped in systems of family policing that prey on societies most vulnerable and marginalized.
It is time to rise up and take a stand against family policing. Join us October 22, 2022.
Check out the Op-Ed in the SF Bayview: