Reviving Justice: A Guide to Crafting Impactful Online Petitions To Revitalize a “Cold” Homicide Investigation

This post serves as a comprehensive template and guide designed to assist you in crafting impactful online petitions and applying pressure to authorities to breathe life into stagnant open homicide cases. There are multiple avenues to construct a compelling petition, and what follows is a user-friendly starter template to kickstart your digital advocacy campaign for cold cases.

“Digital advocacy” typically refers to a broader set of activities to influence public opinion and policy through digital channels. Digital advocacy encompasses various online strategies and tools, including social media campaigns, online petitions, email campaigns, and other digital communication methods, to advance a particular cause or initiative.  

Online campaign platforms like Change.org and iPetition play a crucial role in digital advocacy and crowdfunding efforts for several reasons:

  • Accessibility: Online platforms make accessing and contributing to campaigns easy for people worldwide. This broad reach enables individuals or organizations to tap into a global audience, increasing the potential for fundraising success.
  • Visibility: Crowdfunding campaigns often rely on social media and online platforms to gain visibility. Websites like Change.org provide a centralized location where campaigners can create petitions, share their stories, and garner support. The platform’s user base and visibility can help campaigns reach a wider audience.
  • Community Engagement: Change.org and similar platforms facilitate community engagement by allowing campaigners to connect with supporters and update them on the campaign’s progress. This interactive element helps build a community around a cause, encouraging ongoing support.
  • Credibility: Established crowdfunding platforms provide a level of credibility to campaigns. Users are more likely to trust and contribute to a campaign hosted on a well-known and reputable platform like Change.org, as these platforms often have measures in place to verify the authenticity of the campaigns.
  • Campaign Tools: Online platforms offer various tools and features to optimize and promote campaigns. This may include social media integration, email campaigns, and other promotional tools to help campaigners effectively communicate their message and reach their fundraising goals.
  • Legal and Financial Infrastructure: Crowdfunding platforms often provide the necessary legal and financial infrastructure for campaigns, handling transactions securely and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations. This allows campaigners to focus on their cause without navigating complex financial processes.

Petition Template

Introduction (Paragraph 1): Provide a summary with background information on the unsolved homicide aka “cold case.” Explain your connection to the case and what you hope to accomplish with the petition.

Example text: Please join me/us in seeking justice for [him/her] who was murdered on [date, location].  For [several years], our family has waited for answers and justice to prevail.  Our petition calls for the [reopening, reinvestigation, etc] of [victim’s name]’s unsolved homicide to be prioritized by [enter the name, address, city, and state of the police department with jurisdiction].  

(Paragraph 2): Make a specific request and stress the significance of the petition for victims’ families and the broader community. 

Example text: Please help us plead to the [enter the name, address, city, and state of the police department with jurisdiction] to make the [name of victim] unsolved homicide case an investigative priority after [# of years with no answers—our Requests:

[List specific things you are asking for. Be specific]

[List specific things that you are asking for. Be specific]

[List specific things that you are asking for. Be specific]

[Continue listing requests if necessary]

(Paragraph 3-4): Summarize roadblocks you have encountered to solving the case to date and any barriers you have experienced in dealing with the lead investigative agency 

Example text: We’ve encountered multiple roadblocks and barriers that have hindered progress in getting the primary investigating agency to [re-open, re-prioritize or re-allocate resources] to the unsolved homicide of [name of victim]. 

From [mention specific roadblocks], our pursuit of justice has been marked with challenges. These challenges are not excuses but insights into our struggle and a need for renewed commitment to solving [victim’s name]’s case.

(Paragraph 5): Highlight other states/investigations that have accomplished something similar to what you are trying to accomplish and any statistics or facts that can prove your petition and call to action are justified. Add relevant links to news stories or other details that support this.

Example text: Across [name of State], we have achieved breakthroughs in unsolved cases by utilizing/ implementing similar strategies. The statistics tell a compelling story—[provide relevant statistics or facts]. These success stories fortify our resolve to push for this change. 

(Paragraph 6-7): Identify the specific ask and call to action. What do you want people to do?  

Example text: Now, I/we turn to you, our community, with a specific ask. [Specify what you want them to do with a clear call to action]. Please take action now and sign and share this petition.  

(Paragraph 8): Reference organizations / notable people who publicly support this initiative; this could be other families in your state, advocacy organizations, political figures etc. 

We are not alone in this fight. Organizations like [mention organizations] stand in solidarity with our cause. Their public support amplifies our voice and adds weight to our plea. Together, we are stronger, and your endorsement further strengthens the foundation of our advocacy.

(Paragraph 9): Final Call to Action – Reiterate the importance of signing and sharing the petition, broadening the impact beyond affected families to the entire community.

Here are some additional helpful tips from Change.org 

Additional tips:

  • Ensure a seamless flow between paragraphs, guiding the reader through a logical progression of information.
  • Balance emotional appeal with factual evidence, strengthening the persuasive tone.
  • Provide direct links to relevant Facebook pages or websites for additional information.
  • Make the call to action clear and straightforward.
  • Encourage immediate action in the signing and sharing process.

Example Petitions: Re-investigation and Case re-opening- Read👉🏾 Sign👉🏾 Share

Example Petitions: Cold Case Advocacy Legislation Read👉🏾 Sign👉🏾 Share

 

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest