Look, Black People Aren't Lying About Police Violence

by Frankie Norman August 15, 2016, 0:22
Look, Black People Aren't Lying About Police Violence

The Baltimore Police Department and U.S. Justice Department have agreed to implement dramatic reforms in the law enforcement agency in the wake of Wednesday's scathing federal report that concluded city police officers routinely violated the civil rights of black residents. Seven African American men in these areas were stopped more than 30 times, and blacks made up some 91 percent of those arrested for petty offenses like trespassing in Baltimore-even as they represented just 63 percent of residents.

"Out of the data we surveyed, the police department made roughly 44 percent of its stops in two small, predominantly African-American districts that contain only 11 percent of the city's population". The report noted that one African American man in his mid-50s was stopped 30 times in less than four years. Moreover, only 3.7 percent of these searches resulted in arrests, showing that they were often conducted without reason or cause.

The investigation into the Baltimore Police Department found that the unconstitutional practice of stopping and arresting citizens stemmed from "zero tolerance" approaches to policing that were handed down by supervisors.

Additional instances of systematized sexism, mistreatment of mentally ill citizens, and refusal to help or respect trans women in the DOJ's report paints a picture of how far-reaching and entrenched bigotry is in our police practices.

"We were able to save a lot of lives doing things that actually worked to improve police and community relations", O'Malley said. As DOJ and Baltimore work together to improve the state of policing in Baltimore, HRC will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to push for criminal justice reform on the federal level.

The report also expresses concern that officers are displaying unlawful gender bias in their interactions with female victims of sexual violence and transgender people.

Baltimore and the Justice Department "have entered into an agreement in principle that identifies the types of reforms we plan to address as we prepare to negotiate a court-enforceable, independently-monitored consent decree", Gupta said.

Baltimore police "routinely use unreasonable force against individuals with mental health disabilities", the DOJ wrote, escalating encounters instead of de-escalating them.

During a duel news conference with both Baltimore and Justice Department officials, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said, "Change is painful".

"These and similar arrests identified by our investigation reflect BPD officers exercising almost unfettered discretion to criminalize the act of standing on public sidewalks", the report found.

Cincinnati is a positive example of reform stemming from a court settlement, Edwards says, though the 2002 agreement there differs from the consent decree signed in Newark and the one coming in Baltimore in that it was the result of class-action lawsuit, not a Justice Department probe.

"It reflects a debate that's been going on for quite a while, and to the extent that we can find the government acknowledging those costs and downsides, it's about time", said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who specializes in police policy and conduct.

"We have not been standing still while this inquiry was underway", she said.

Numerous stories describe retaliation against residents who question or challenge police actions - and against other officers who attempt to speak up for victims.

Officials warned, however, that changing a department entrenched in a culture of unconstitutional policing would be a slow process and could cost millions.

".Policing that violates the Constitution or federal law severely undermines community trust".

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said while the findings of the report are "challenging to hear, " the investigation creates a "crucial foundation" that will allow Baltimore to change the department.


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