Say Her Name: A Vigil for Charleena Lyles

On June 18th, Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four, was killed by the police in her home, in Seattle, WA. Three of Charleena’s children were home when the shooting occurred, and there can be no doubt that witnessing the violent death of their mother will affect them for a lifetime. She had called the Seattle Police Department to report a burglary. The police officers knew that Charleena suffered from mental health issues and knew that she was a survivor of domestic violence and yet they did nothing to de-escalate the situation when they claimed Charleena brandished a knife. Charleena was a petite woman and her family has argued that the officers should have been able to subdue her with less than deadly force.

Several days after Charleena’s death, her cousin, Tiffani Hill of Los Angeles contacted the African American Policy Forum. She wanted to know what she should do to help raise awareness about what had happened to her cousin Charleena, and asked for support as she put together a vigil in Los Angeles where many of Charleena family members live.

The vigil for Charleena took place at Leimert park a week after Charleena’s death. The family was joined by their pastor, community members, and Fran Garrett one of the mothers of the Say Her Name movement who lost her daughter in a similar encounter with police. The vigil consisted of prayer, song, reflection on Charleena’s life, and ended with the group Saying Her Name to lift up Charleena Lyles.