COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS DEMAND IMMEDIATE ACTION ON POLICING REFORMS
BOSTON – Members of Boston’s Black community and several advocacy organizations demand immediate action by elected officials to address police brutality and eradicate police involved killing.
After two community forums convened by the NAACP Boston Branch several organizations issued a list of demands to address their concerns about policing. The convenings were held in the immediate aftermath of Minneapolis police officers murdering George Floyd, as well as the recent murder of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery.
“We needed space for the community to come together and address our concerns, express our pain and rage, but also take those concerns and emotions and transform them into policy and action. It was also important for us to call out the fact that Boston is not immune from police involved killings, with 12 such killings between 2013-2019, including Terrance Coleman” said Tanisha M. Sullivan, President of the NAACP Boston Branch. The list of ten demands include declaring racism a public health and safety emergency, reducing the Boston Police Department Budget by 15% and reinvesting those dollars in community based services, creating a civilian review board with subpoena power, placing limits on police use of force, the full implementation of the body worn camera program, and creating a police decertification system known as POST (Peace Officer Standards and Training). “These demands by no means capture every voice, perspective or view from the Black community, but it is a narrowly focused list that addresses the issues that many in the community see as having the most immediate impact on how communities of color, and Black communities in particular, are policed” said Sullivan, “it does not end here, this is only the beginning.”
In addition to the NAACP Boston Branch membership, forums were attended by a broad cross section of people who live and work in the Greater Boston area, as well as organizations that serve the communities of Boston, including the ACLU of Massachusetts, ADL New England, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Epsilon Gamma Lambda Chapter, Asian Community Development Corporation, BECMA, Black Boston Covid-19 Coalition, Black Economic Justice Institute, Boston Network for Black Student Achievement, Commonwealth Seminar, Concerned Black Men of Massachusetts, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.-Boston Alumnae Chapter, DRIVE Boston, Freedom House, Greater Framingham Community Church, Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council, Historic Twelfth Baptist Church, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, JET-PAC, JP Progressives, Lawyers for Civil Rights, Mass Police Reform, Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Eta Phi Chapter, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Sustained Boston, The Lesbians of Color Symposium Collective (LOCS), and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.
The goal of the forums was to discuss policy recommendations that will address police violence and develop a list of demands based on community priorities that advocates and other organizations will pursue with local elected leaders.
“I’m reminded in this moment of a quote that addressed the injustice of the Africans aboard the Amistad, “We understand now, we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.” It’s time to change “who we were.” We have been fighting for resources in our community and demanding change for too long without seeing meaningful results. We expect deliberate and immediate action. We’ve invested too much into the band aid solutions, it’s time to be intentional about changing who we were.” said Dr. J. Keith Motley, Consultant for Urban League of Eastern MA.
“How many times have we had convenings in the aftermath of a tragedy only to come back to another tragedy and convene again. This time is different. In addition to the national refrain calling for defunding the police, reinvesting in community and greater limits on police power and use of force, we are making specific policy recommendations that we will actively press our elected officials to implement” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the racial justice program for the ACLU of Massachusetts.
“Now is the time to seize the moment and push our city forward. White America is beginning to realize that Black people are disproportionately suffering from two pandemics COVID-19 and racism. These recent killings have highlighted the need to address the deep structural racism that makes our communities more susceptible to contracting and dying from the coronavirus and police abuse” said Priscilla Flint-Banks, Co-founder of the Black Economic Justice Institute and Convener of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition.
The Community Demands:
- To increase community accountability establish a civilian review board (“CRB”) with subpoena power, and implement said CRB no later than September 2020; designate a member of the CRB to join the City’s negotiating team for a review of and further negotiation of collective bargaining agreement provisions concerning discipline; and designate a member of the CRB to review promotion recommendations. Further, grant the Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel subpoena power.
- Establish a strong statewide Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) system to enable the de-certification of law enforcement officers for misconduct and abuse.
- Reduce the Boston Police Department budget by at least 15% and reallocate those funds to social services, victim support services and mental health community-based resources.
- Adopt clear statutory limits on police use of force. Require data collection and regular reporting regarding police use of force and other misconduct involving law enforcement; and ensure that the use of any banned tactics including choke-holds, knee-holds and other tactics known to restrict blood circulation or airflow result in termination.
- Review and modify the de-escalation protocols of the Boston Police Department, including protocols for interactions with veteran’s and those with known mental health challenges.
- Fully implement the use of body worn cameras by all on-duty members of law enforcement, including overtime and detail shifts, and failure to activate, tampering, or obscuring body cameras must result in severe disciplinary consequence. Implement a policy requiring all members of law enforcement to wear a marking on the chest of the uniform listing their name, badge number and unit.
- Remove law enforcement from the Boston Public Schools and increase the number of mentors, counselors, and professionals trained in restorative justice practices.
- Strengthen the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act to ensure that law enforcement who violate an individual’s civil rights are not immune from civil liability.
- Declare Racism a public health and public safety emergency.
- To increase racial and ethnic diversity modify the application of veteran’s preference in civil service; adopt stronger residency requirements; and modify hiring practices using a racial equity lens.
For more information contact:
Tanisha M. Sullivan – NAACP Boston (617) 433-7409
Rahsaan Hall – ACLU of Massachusetts (781) 910-5215
Priscilla Flint-Banks- Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition (617) 515-6908