RICHMOND, Va. -- Princess Blanding and her family hope the world is listening to the screams coming from protests around the nation.
Blanding lost her brother Marcus David Peters two years ago when he was fatally shot by a black Richmond Police officer.
Peters was unclothed when he aggressively charged a police officer who shot him. Peters’ family said their loved one was experiencing a mental crisis and needed help.
The shooting was later deemed justifiable by Richmond prosecutors. Blanding does not agree with those findings.
Two years later, events surrounding the death of George Floyd by a white officer in Minneapolis have Blanding’s full attention.
“This is bigger than me and my personal feelings. This cannot continue to happen,” she said.
Blanding said despite the city's ruling in her brother's case, her family has not stopped fighting for reformation. They have pressed city leaders to implement a civilian review board with subpoena power to help monitor police actions.
“We're not going to back down,” she said. “We're not asking for anything that's unreasonable. We're not asking for anything that's just personal. The Marcus Alert has his name and his story behind it, but as to preserve the lives of others moving forward.”
They’re asking for a mandate that mental health professionals be the first responders in a mental health crisis, with police acting as backup.
Mayor Stoney touched on the issue in a recent news conference.
“We talked about civilian review boards, things of that nature. We have to review that, we have definitely, we have to explore that,” he said. “When it comes to handling incidents of mental health in our community and when our law enforcement encounters that, we have to make the crisis alert -- Marcus Alert -- happen in the city.”
Blanding said they've collected more than 11,000 signatures from supporters who want the city to institute these changes. Her next step to keep the community engaged will be to host a free webinar this week on their efforts.
“We want to hear their voice and their input and we want to have a good clear representation of what their concerns are as well,” she said.
Blanding said a free webinar Thursday is open to anyone in the community.