National convening focused on healing for victims of gun violence, support for Issue 24
More than 100 family members from across the country impacted by police and gun violence
Fri-Sat, September 10-11
Celebration of the Life of Angelo Miller, with a march, healing circles, and gala event
March on Friday, beginning at 5pm at E 79th St and Hough Ave, followed by vigil at 7:30pm at DoubleTree Hotel in Westlake;
Gala on Saturday from 6-9pm at the DoubleTree
Cleveland, OH—From September 10-11, more than 100 families who’ve lost loved ones to police and gun violence will gather in Cleveland from across the country for the inaugural “Celebration of Life.” The celebration will honor the life of Angelo Miller, a 17-year-old Black man shot in the back and killed by Cleveland police in 2007. It will also build momentum for Issue 24, a ballot initiative advanced by the Citizens for a Safer Cleveland coalition to strengthen police accountability and oversight.
The two-day event is hosted by the Angelo Miller Foundation, formed by Angelo’s family members to support those impacted by police and gun violence. The foundation’s work has a dual focus: justice and healing. With each tragedy, there’s urgency to fight for justice and systemic change. For those who’ve grieved, there’s an additional burden: each new police killing can be re-traumatizing.
“We’re keeping the Angelo Miller legacy alive by telling our stories. The police try to paint our community like we don’t experience racial profiling and lethal violence. But we do, and we demand justice. This means healing. This means systemic change. This means using our voices at the polls to enforce accountability,” said Alicia Kirkman, Angelo’s mother and foundation president.
The weekend will start with a march at 5pm on Friday. The march will begin at E 79th and Hough and proceed to the site where Angelo was murdered. It will be accompanied by a brass band and will include singing and prayer. It will be followed by prayer and a lantern release at the DoubleTree Hotel in Westlake at 7:30pm.
On Saturday, there will be a closed healing space and art therapy for the youth during the day, followed by a gala from 6-9pm at the hotel. The gala will include a youth panel, beginning at 6:30, where young people will share their stories and make their voices heard on police accountability. The panel will follow with an interfaith service and a gala dinner.
Throughout, the celebration will lift up the Citizens for a Safer Cleveland campaign (saferCLE.org). The campaign is led by family members who have lost a loved one to Cleveland police, including Angelo’s mother. It seeks to pass a City of Cleveland charter amendment on the November 2021 ballot, Issue 24, that would create independent investigations into police misconduct and implement powerful community oversight over policing, with the goal of ensuring no other families ever have to grieve a loved one’s needless murder at the hands of Cleveland police. On August 18, the Cleveland City Council approved the initiative for the ballot.
Background on the Angelo Miller Foundation
On March 22, 2007, Angelo Miller, a 17-year old Black man, was shot in the back by Cleveland police. The officer who killed Angelo had previously exhibited patterns of excessive force, made wrongful arrests, and needlessly escalated violence during encounters with citizens. Compounding the tragedy of Angelo’s loss, Angelo’s family struggled mightily to obtain funds to bury him.
In 2020, Angelo’s mother, Alicia Kirkman, launched the Angelo Miller Foundation. The foundation’s work is focused on:
- Assisting grieving community members with memorial and burial expenses
- Providing spaces for healing
- Conducting peer-to-peer youth and community outreach to build leadership for long-term policy change
Prior to the launch of the foundation, Angelo’s mother and loved ones spent years hosting regular healing circles, know-your-rights trainings, and music and cultural events to engage Black youth in our communities around a vision of community connectedness and justice. They also led grassroots fundraising efforts to support loved ones with burial expenses. And they built relationships with other impacted families; in 2014, Angelo’s mother led a delegation of other mothers from Cleveland to Rise Up October in New York City, where they met thousands of other mothers whose kids’ lives had been stolen.