Cat Perkins, Community Activist
Cat Perkins (Catron Academy) is a community activist working to end Mass Incarceration and gang/gun violence. In addition to Producing and Co-Hosting LA Survivors Speak Radio with Aqeela Sherrills and David Guizar, Cat is a recent graduate of Initiate Justice founder Taina Vargas-Edmond and she fights the broken criminal justice system along with inside and outside organizers.
“I went all 12 weeks, never missed a night,” she begins. “I submitted an application to be a part of this to end mass incarceration. I trained to be an impacted leader. Families need to know their rights and how to fight for our incarcerated loved ones. In addition to “Restoring Justice,” I will be sitting down with perpetrators, interviewing them and asking why and getting into their background. Working on helping change their minds and thinking from previous behaviors.”
Cat is no stranger to discrimination. In 2018 Cat fell victim to prejudiced law enforcement, and was discriminated against as an employee at the Sheriffs department, who fired her in January once they got wind their clerk was married to a felon who was sentenced to life without parole in prison at the age of 22.
“My husband is now 56, a lifer facing the second death penalty and he will never be eligible for parole. He and I were married in October 2016,” she shares.
I met Cat Perkins at the Kingdom Day Parade in January 2019. I arrived early for the parade, and walked around the floats with my camera and photographing all the people. I saw Cat and asked her if I could take her photograph, to which she agreed with a smile. She was welcoming and friendly and began introducing me to handfuls of people involved with the Cease Fire organization. Cat invited me up onto the truck for the parade, which I humbly accepted. It was an experience I will never forget. Since then I have photographed Cat at a handful of events she has worked with and organized.
“That was my first Kingdom Day Parade I have attended,” Cat admits.
“I got the invitation to join Cease Fire, which is a partner of The Reverence Project, and Sistas Working Against Gang Violence (SWAGV) with founder Carolyn Ballard Hamilton. I’ve never been a part of a gang, but I am against gang/gun violence. All of us were on that truck, mothers who have lost their children. There were lots of non-profits on that truck. It was very special, something I have never experienced.”
I quickly became fascinated by Cat Perkins. There was a force that drew me to her like a magnet. I couldn’t help but think how incredible this woman was, a true inspiration to all women everywhere, and a real leader to look up to.
Too commonly women are faced with struggles and discrimination. I wanted to learn more about Cat’s story and document the work that she gives back to her community, even as an Evangelist. Cat invited me to the Capital with her organization Catron Academy Learning Institute, LaNaisha Edward’s United Communities for Peace and Oya Sherrills The Reverence Project, for a three day event in Sacramento, and to document the march to the states Capital with Survivors Speak.
With tears in her eyes Cat stood on the steps of our states Capital holding up a banner of murdered victims. The depths of her pain and suffering was something that could not be denied as she marched in Sacramento for change and a chance to be heard. I asked her how she felt that day, standing on those steps, surrounded by hundreds of other crime advocates who want their voices to be heard.
“As a mother losing a son by gun violence who was shot by LAPD, and losing a son to sickness, I stood on those steps with many mothers, fathers, supporters, friends and survivors sharing their voices. It’s a big movement. I couldn’t even express the words of the spirit and energy of our ancestors. Sharing the pain and the hurt of losing a loved one was going through my mind on that day. We have lost warriors who have carried the banners and walked with us through Los Angeles.”
The Reverence Project
1673 E. 108th Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90059