Photography by Emma Cypressi
Between the calls for social justice in education, trending twitter topics on police brutality, and protests in all 50 states, America is reaching yet another turning point in history regarding the systematic rights, or lack thereof, of Black individuals in the US. The murder of George Floyd has shed light on many unknown Black police brutality victims, Miles’ story being one of those.
Since the murder of George Floyd, multiple protests have been held in Walnut Creek calling for justice for the numerous Black men and women murdered by police departments all over the country, including Walnut Creek, considering the shooting of Miles Hall on June 2, 2019, a 23-year-old Black man living in Walnut Creek.
He was shot by the Walnut Creek Police Department during a mental health crisis, although the Hall family spent two years prior to Mile’s death working with the WCPD to protect and support Miles through his mental health episodes. The Halls were deliberate in their protection of Miles to be sure the WCPD knew Miles and knew of his episodes. Despite their proactive efforts, Miles was shot and killed after police officers Melissa Murphy and KC Hsiao were called to help Miles, who was experiencing an episode. Miles was described as a “curious and funny young man” on the Instagram account @justiceformileshall. He was a Las Lomas alumni and enjoyed making music and skating.
June 2 marked the anniversary of Mile’s death, and a year later, the Halls are still doing everything they can to get justice for Miles and protect other Black men and women struggling with mental health problems like Miles. Taun Hall, Mile’s mother, commented on how support has changed since BLM has hit Walnut Creek, “Since the death of George Floyd, Justice for Miles Hall has seen more donations and more activity on social media.” Taun believes that since the death of George Floyd, there has been a substantial shift of support, politically and socially, that has helped Justice for Miles Hall in more ways than one. The foundation Friends of Scott and Taun Hall (FOSATH) was formed closely following Miles’ death to “educate and advocate for systemic changes in Walnut Creek with respect to law enforcement’s response to individuals living with mental health challenges.”
One of FOSATH’s main goals is to create a county-wide non-police response to mental health crises. FOSATH has also seen local, political change with the increase of attention to Miles’ case. There are currently multiple candidates for Walnut Creek City Council, who have made Miles’ story a major factor in their political campaign. Michael Sampson commented, “ I strongly support the Black Lives Matter movement and Justice for Miles Hall.” Loella Haskew commented, “It has been stated by Taun and Scott Hall that one of their goals is to have a more measured response to mental health crisis situations and I want to support them in this goal.” Curtis Reese has also mentioned full support of Justice for Miles Hall (for more information on what Walnut Creek City Council candidates will be doing for Justice for Miles Hall, the Page has released an article on all candidates and their positions). Both candidates mentioned above are pushing for a 24/7 non-police crisis hotline in Walnut Creek to assist with anyone in a mental crisis. Along with incoming candidates, Taun Hall has also seen more concern from the city council, “Before, they [city council] were just entertaining us and nothing was really happening. After George Floyd the council felt more of a need to address the concerns about racial inequality.”
There has been a large amount of community support for FOSATH’s goal of keeping officers involved in the shooting of Miles Hall off the street. Despite this support, Melissa Murphy and KC Hsiao remain on active duty in Walnut Creek (Hsiao and Murphy have not made any comment regarding the Hall case). However, as we have seen support for BLM and social justice increase in Walnut Creek, how has that affected Justice for Miles Hall/FOSATH? Taun goes on to mention that BLM creates leverage in Walnut Creek that Justice for Miles Hall can use to tie protests and local activism into Miles’ story. Many are learning about Miles’ through social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram. These social media accounts are slowly helping to spread Miles’ name all over the US in various protests.
Most recently, the Hall’s settled their Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against the city of Walnut Creek for $4 million dollars. Despite one fight ending, this does not mean the Hall’s will stop pushing justice for Miles, “Our decision to settle was based on attempting to move forward and to avoid a prolonged legal battle that would’ve taken a further toll on us… the lawsuit was never about money. No amount of money can bring our son back”. In this email Justice for Miles Hall released after the lawsuit was settled, they also mentioned their main goal: “Our goal has always been, and will continue to be, for the city of Walnut Creek and its police department to recognize the fact that our son needed help… instead of getting help, he was viewed as a criminal”. The Hall’s will continue fighting to be sure that no other families experience a loss like this when making a call to police for help, as well as fighting for a 24/7 non-police response to mental health crises. To learn more about FOSATH and Justice for Miles Hall, visit justiceformileshall.org.