Burnout Is A Lingering Danger After Decades Of Deaths

photos and candles in a pile for a memorial
Zain Murdock
October 4, 2022

Brentwood, Pittsburgh police suffocated 31-year-old Jonny Gammage to death on October 12, 1995. His story has been kept alive by his grieving family, musicians, and politicians urging reform. But in 2020, something shifted again.

Gammage’s family watched the streets flood in protest after police similarly killed another man: George Floyd. And that same year, Black character Randall Pearson reacted to Floyd’s death on the fictional show, This Is Us. 

But Randall also revealed that Gammage’s death transformed how he saw the world decades earlier - and he never fully recovered.

2020 was an introduction to police violence for some. But to many of us, this has been a long haul. And, like Randall eventually displays, the burnout is real.

Depression. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Frustration. Exhaustion. A 2018 study found that when police kill an unarmed Black person, the mental health of nearby Black residents suffers for three months. When cops kill hundreds of us a year, there simply isn’t time to recoup. 

How can we go on like this?

Leaning on each other and self-care. As a starting point, here are some resources compiled by Black health professional Micalah Webster: https://bit.ly/3LMNqk8

We can and WILL work together with an end goal in sight - to imagine, demand, and build the world we deserve. This pain won’t last forever.