Collette Flanagan founded Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) after her son, Clinton Allen, was shot to death by a Dallas police officer in March 2013. Clinton was unarmed, a 25-year-old Black father of twin boys; he was shot once in the arm, five times in the chest, and once in the back.
Mrs. Flanagan’s experiences in the aftermath of this official homicide – the indifference of Dallas City Hall, the lack of any assistance to the surviving family, the vilification of her son in the media, and finally the impunity enjoyed by the killer – turned her grief into anger and then into action.
A former IBM executive, Collette Flanagan has, in a very short time, built MAPB into an intergenerational, multi-ethnic, multicultural organization with both a local and national presence.
MAPB has pressured the Dallas Police Chief to be more transparent in the investigations of fatal police shootings. In two controversial shootings in 2014, MAPB was the first to release the autopsies of the victims – which showed that both victims were shot in the back. Chief David Brown announced in October that the department would display information on police shootings on the DPD web site. MAPB advocated officers should be suspended for 30 days following a shooting, when existing policy mandated only a 3day leave. This change was also announced by Chief Brown in October 2015.
In November 2014, MABP, under Collette’s leadership led a delegation of Mothers to Washington, DC, where MAPB held the first Congressional debriefing, to demand a national response to the crisis of police violence against the public and to press for federal reforms to end abusive, militarized and biased policing, particularly of African-American and Latino communities.
In November 2014, MABP, under Collette’s leadership, presented the first ever public hearing of testimony that was officially transcribed and recorded of the relatives that were victims of police homicide.
In 2015, Ms. Flanagan became a prestigious Echoing Green Fellow and was awarded the Black Male Achievement Fellowship, she keeps a heavy schedule of meetings and speaking engagements to colleges and other organization and lends her voice unwavering to the movement against police violence.
In January 2016, Mothers Against Police Brutality developed and officially released: Mothers Against Police Brutality Proposes 9 Steps for Justice in Policing to End Unaccountable Police Violence. MAPB has outlined these strategic steps in major forums sponsored by the United Nations and by the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation.
MAPB, under Ms. Flanagan’s leadership, persuaded the Dallas County District Attorney to establish a special civil rights unit for the investigation of fatal police shootings. This unit in 2017 returned the first indictment of a Dallas officer in a fatal shooting since 1973.
In 2020-21, Ms. Flanagan worked directly with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on implementation of Human Rights Council Resolution 43/1 on the “Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Africans and People of African Descent Against Excessive Use of Force and Other Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcement Officers.” She identified cases for investigation by the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG). She produced video testimony from mothers of victims of policy violence for various U.N. committees and related NGOs. During this period MAPB co-sponsored events with the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA), the ACLU, and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute
In April, 2021, Ms. Flanagan was a featured speaker at the release of a major study, the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence against People of African Descent in the United States. The International Commission is distinguished body of attorneys and representatives from around the world, including Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles of Barbados, who has been a prominent advocate for reparations, and Mireille Fanon-Mendes of France, the daughter of the great Frantz Fanon. Prof. Horace Campbell, a well-known activist and internationalist was among the rapporteurs. For more about the International Commission, see: https://inquirycommission.org/.
Ms. Flanagan is the recipient of the 2021 Champion of Justice Award, by the Center for Justice and Accountability, an international human rights organization based in San Francisco. Her fellow recipient this year is Ben Ferencz, who was the chief prosecutor for the United States in The Einsatzgruppen Case at the Nuremburg Tribunal and a pioneer in the field of international justice. Previous awardees include U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Stephen Rapp; U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay; and Lydia Cacho, who has been described by Amnesty International as “perhaps Mexico’s most famous investigative journalist and women’s rights advocate.” For more about the Champion of Justice Award and the Center, see: https://cja.org/un-gala/.
“My fight was and is still inspired by my children, and by other families and victims of police brutality”, said Mrs. Flanagan at a recent hearing. “I will not let my son, and their sons, fathers, and brothers, be forgotten.”
With the founding of Mothers Against Police Brutality, and her subsequent work at home and abroad, Collette Flanagan has emerged as one of America’s most effective advocates for justice and human rights.