Dangerous Compassions

how Tashii Brown’s death changed my life


Yesterday I found out the family of Tashii Brown is supposed to get a $2.2 million settlement for Tashii Brown‘s 2017 murder at the hands of Las Vegas cops. 

I was surprised.  I’d heard zero about the settlement.  Yesterday I googled Tashii Brown, trying to find an informative link about his killing, to share with some people, and was surprised to find the news article about the settlement from late July of this year.


Tashii Brown’s killing was my first really strong understanding of cops killing Black people.  It’s murder, extrajudicial execution, disgusting, immoral, and so destructive.  Way too common, and an enactment of the deep racism in the US.  Not an incidental accident–part of a huge systemic problem.  A lot people know about it, but few people are doing something about it.  

Oscar Grant being murdered by BART cops in 2009 was a big deal to me also, but felt elsewhere.  Tashii Brown’s death felt very nearby, and it put a lot into motion inside me. 

It changed my life also with the Las Vegas Street Medics.  An artist Ravi Zupa gave proceeds from an art he made to the Las Vegas Street Medics so we could put on a deescalation training and work toward making a world where cops don’t kill Black people.  We’ve done two trainings so far.

I knew police murder Black people often, but it was more vivid to me, when it happened in Las Vegas to Tashii Brown.  Suddenly it was something I needed to do something about.

crazy such as myself

Tashii Brown believed he was being followed, which is why he approached the cops for help, the cops who soon afterward killed him.  So Tashii Brown was having a mental health crisis, possibly.  He had used methamphetamine, which can cause paranoia.

Maybe no will ever know if he was actually being followed.  But crazy people such as myself are at extra risk of being killed by cops.  Black plus crazy is a dangerous place to be.

With my entire being, I know that crazy isn’t us vs them.  Many people want to paint it like “I am a sane, normal, mentally healthy person who can be trusted with anything, at all times.  Those crazy people over there are bad, they are always crazy and bad, and I could never go over there, to the crazy side.  I am safe on the sane side, forever.”

Of course, that is not true.  Many, many people have been in a psych ward or psych hospital.  Tons of people have had extreme states and hallucinations.  Anyone is capable of intense behaviors and feelings.  Sleep deprivation, stress, a bad reaction to a medication, physical illness, an extra energy shot, grief, trauma…many possible causes for behavior that’s deemed mental illness.

us and us

It’s way more complicated than us and them.  Some people do have more issues than others, that get deemed mental illness.  I’ve heard voices my whole life, since I was a young child.  Hearing voices is a normal part of the human experience and not terribly rare.  But that is something special about me, and the extreme moods I experience are kind of special too, the way I’m rarely in a middle place; I struggle with being too up or down.

Anyone can be crazy, and diagnoses are be handed out like Halloween candy by psychiatrists who are pharma-motivated and mostly have a prescription pad in their toolbox.  A diagnosis is the word version of a billing code for pills.

psychiatric survivor

At the same time, some of us are more identified than others, with mental health issues.  I’m a psychiatric survivor and happy to wear the badge of crazy, for all I’ve endured.  Some of us reclaim the term, how queer and fat have been reclaimed.

I have mad skills of making creative connections, being sensitive, noticing a lot, experiencing altered states, hearing voices, negotiating systems, enduring abuse at the hands of doctors, experiencing years of medication side effects…having a certain role in my family as designated feeler, the Crazy One.

Why not–I’ll be the crazy one.  I’m good at it.  The other crazy ones are dead, from suicide or drug overdose.  So I’m left in the running– vivid and feeling it all so you don’t have to.

thank you

I notice I went on a tangent about mental health.  Thank you for your patience.

There are facts I could tell you about crazy people such as myself being way more likely to be victims of violent crime than to commit it.  Also I could tell you about hospital abuse, Electroconvulsive Therapy, how fat vs non-fat people are treated, triage eugenics, bioethical failures, disability justice, the fat shame I learned in my family, psych meds and weight gain, substance abuse in my family, coping mechanisms for extreme anxiety, who owns whose body, and how I’m told by thin, white men that if medicine isn’t working well for me, I just need to try harder.

Our health is mixed up with so many other things.  The military industrial complex kills lots of people in lots of ways, such as my mom’s mom who was poisoned by the Trinity test in New Mexico.  We are all downwinders, at this point.

Capitalism kills a lot of people.  Cops are agents of capitalism.  They keep oppressed people oppressed, kill people when that’s not their job, protect the property of the rich, keep order.  The order is racism.  So it makes sense they kill Black and crazy people, with so few consequences.

I can imagine a world that isn’t like that and do many specific things, to try to make that world.  Thank you for working on it too.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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