Archivists have long recognized the inherent historical and social mandate in preserving stories of those who endured violence at the hands of the state. Examples of this responsibility include archivists who recorded public tribunals in post-apartheid South Africa, documented stories of Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II, and acquired collections of 1960s civil rights activists who experienced military intervention while fighting to end segregation. These endeavors align with the historian Howard Zinn’s call for archivists to “compile a whole new world of documentary material” about the lived experiences of marginalized populations and communities. Drawing upon Zinn’s charge as well as scholarly literature around community archives, social justice, and human rights, this article describes the joint effort of community organizers and professional archivists who collaborated to establish a community archive for victims of police violence in Cleveland, Ohio. The archive, A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, provides a sustainable, autonomous means for Cleveland residents to share their first-hand accounts of police violence in the region. The authors will narrate the archive’s conception and development as well as advance the archive as a post-custodial model for other grassroots organizations protesting various forms of state violence.
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