I Recall the meeting that the NAACP hosted with local police departments to address the concern about “excessive force” after Ritchie Robles, a “mentally ill” man, was brutally murdered by MPD in the early morning in January 2009. The NAACP hosted several meetings of this sort. The first meeting was with the justice department and the community spoke the truth about the police brutality in our communities. The family of Ritchie Robles told stories about previous encounters Richie had with police which gave us a whole different side of the story. The 2nd meeting was a forum with local police, who only agreed to meet after the justice dept told them they better. MPD attempted to justify their means to a brutal end, and the community was there to see how many more lies they would tell. The third meeting took place at a Church with Sheriff Adam Christianson and the county district attorney’s office because they were not able to attend the second meeting. There Christianson admitted that his department racially profiles. The community attempted to seriously discussing the importance of a third party present during an interview that follows when a citizen makes a complaint against a deputy. MPD allows third parties, why can’t the Sheriff do the same? What are they afraid of? These are the questions the community pressed on. Christianson “agreed to disagree” (as he put it). Before the meeting ended the community chanted against his re-election, see http://youtube.com/209copwatch
|“What I’m wondering now is when is the community is going to step up to the plate and do something. Leadership is everybody’s responsibility. One must create the change that they want to see and not take a spectator role expecting someone else to do it.” -Wendy Byrd, Modesto NAACP President.|
In a 4th meeting, after 3 inmates in the county jail were murdered by police taser, the NAACP hosted another meeting with police to discuss “proper protocol” when officers use their so-called “non-lethal weapons.” In the fifth and latest meeting on April 15th the same pattern took place: in response to officers killing a mentally-ill woman the NAACP held a meeting where MPD justified its actions and local mental-health reps told us how great the system works in the county. Several community members (including an Iraq veteran) begged to differ when they shared their stories of abusive cops and a broken local system that did more harm than good. As one citizen put it, “you can stand up there and tell us how things are supposed to work, but it’s not reality, that’s not what happens on the street.” Some exiting the meeting were overheard saying they felt the meeting was “a waste of time.” The ModBee reporter left after the cops gave their presentations and explanations before the community was allowed to give their input! I say “allowed” because the community was prohibited from speaking until after numerous officials spoke for over 2 hours. When some in the crowd did try to question the claims of officers and county officials NAACP members threatened to kick them out. The vibe was that the people were there to be lectured, not to be heard.
On one hand, we’re glad the NAACP is keeping these issues on the front burner. Raising public awareness & support is important and it is what CopWatch and others have been mainly focused on, but direct action is also needed. In the past the idea of a “civilian review board” has been raised to provide the community with real oversight of their local police. If we want a review board then meeting with the cops is pointless, police unions and organizations spend millions on lobbying politicians against it. Let’s invite people from other cities/counties that have review boards and CopWatch orgs, as well as city council members/county supervisors/state reps/& the Justice Dept and meet with them for a full 3 hours with the purpose of discussing review boards and copwatching. The police are merely going to tell us what they want us to hear and other generic info that we could read in a pamphlet. After the police kill someone with attack dogs are we merely going to give them another opportunity to tell us why it was justified and review their K9 policies? After the meeting they get to go home feeling like they’re off the hook and when they come under fire they get to say, “we met with the NAACP, isn’t that good enough?”
AS LONG AS THEY KEEP BEATING, WE ARE DONE MEETING!!! Submitted by 209CopWatch. To get info on the next Know Your Rights/CopWatch Training contact firstname.lastname@example.org