“Part of my own story is that my brother was almost killed by the Sheriff’s Department,” says Patrisse Cullors-Brignac. “He was brutally beaten by the sheriffs when he was 19 years old in the county jails. It’s why I started the organization that I founded here in L.A., which is called Dignity and Power. Now I’m the Executive Director, and our focus has been to fight for the civilian oversight of the sheriff’s department.” As part of a coalition, the group won the establishment of a civilian oversight commission for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
The need for monitoring law enforcement “has everything to do with my story,” says Patrisse. “It has everything to do with what I witnessed as a 10-year-old, 11-year-old, 12-year-old. I think we’re in a generation where young Black people are seeing terrible acts of violence and any human is going to respond at their breaking point. And I think this is our country’s breaking point.”
Patrisse spoke at Liberty Hill’s Uplifting Change luncheon earlier this year, bringing the voice of a new generation to donor-activists focused on strengthening Black Los Angeles through philanthropic investment in grassroots community organizing. She led the group in a moving refrain by Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
“I first heard that quote probably seven years ago and it rang so true and deep for me. Feeling like it is our duty to fight for this, to fight for our freedom and our children and our children’s freedom. And that it’s not just our duty to fight for it, but it’s our duty to win…. And so that quote, I literally close every meeting, every march, and every rally with it.”