A delegation of 10 African-American mothers came to Washington, D.C.,  Dec. 9-11 to voice their criticism of police brutality and the criminal justice system. These women know about injustice firsthand; their sons were killed by police.

Dorothy Copp Elliott, whose son Archie Elliott was shot and killed June 16, 1993, said, “The pain in my heart is still there. It doesn’t matter if there are cameras or witnesses, they are never held responsible.”

The mothers were hosted by CODEPINK, #DCFerguson, DC Hands Up Coalition, Mothers Against Police Brutality and the National Congress of Black Women. The three-day session included a strategy meeting of organizations working on issues relating to police brutality, a public forum at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Northwest, a congressional hearing, and meetings on Captiol Hill.

CODEPINK made the event’s artwork that included pictures of the fallen men in heart-shaped symbols along with crosses. Signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Police Brutality,” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” provided the backdrop of each session.

At the public forum Dec. 9, Washington radio station WPFW’s Verna Avery Brown introduced the mothers. Wanda Jackson’s son, Oscar Grant, was shot and killed by transit policeman Johannes Mehserle at a subway station in Oakland, Calif., on New Year’s Day in 2009. “First I want to say, what is justice? My son deserved not to be killed,” Jackson said. “We need to change our mindset; they need to be held accountable for their actions. I believe the cop that killed my son should have been on death row or served 25 years to life.”

Grant’s story was made into a 2013 critically acclaimed film called Fruitvale Station.

Other mothers present were Valerie Bell, whose son Sean Bell was killed on his wedding day,  Nov. 25, 2006, by a New York policemen wearing plainclothes; Jeralynn Blueford, whose son Alan Blueford, 19, was killed in East Oakland, Calif., on May 6, 2012; and Darlene Cain, whose son Dale Graham, 29, was shot and killed by a Baltimore police officer on Oct. 28, 2008. Airicka Gordon-Taylor and Thelma Wright Edwards, cousins of Emmett Till, also attended the church forum.

Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resources Management; Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) each gave condolences to the mothers. “When you get it twisted you get two systems of justice and two ways of domestic tranquility. This is what we have in this country.” said Jackson.

Jackson Lee referred to Ella Baker’s 1964 quote in her speech. “Until the killing of Black mothers’ sons becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens,” she said.