Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

30May/150

Being Black in America: Policing and African American Communities in Minneapolis, Minnesota

MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 2

A new ACLU report details the racialized policing practices of and experiences in Minneapolis, MN. The new report, Picking Up the Pieces, provides an in-depth analysis of the data and the lived experience of racially targeted policing practices in one of this nation's larger metropolitan areas.

The data is summarized in the following graphics, although the full report is very much worth reading in its entirety.  A companion video appears further below.

MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 1

 

MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 3

Below is the 7 minute companion video for the just-released ACLU report and case study on policing in Minneapolis, MN... Picking Up the Pieces - Policing in America: A Minneapolis Case Study.

Published by the ACLU on May 27, 2015.  For more information, go to: https://www.aclu.org/feature/picking-...

When Officer Rod Webber quickly approached the car that Hamza Jeylani was sitting in, the 17-year-old hit record on his cell phone. Moments earlier, Jeylani and three friends were pulled over by the officer after making a U-turn in a church parking lot in South Minneapolis after playing basketball at the local YMCA. After Jeylani and two friends were ordered out of the car, Webber threatened Jeylani as he handcuffed him.

“Plain and simple, if you fuck with me,” says Webber on the video, “I’m going to break your leg before you get the chance to run.” “Can you tell me why I’m getting arrested?” asks Jeylani. “Because I feel like arresting you,” replies Webber.

According to police, the rationale for the March 18, 2015, arrest was suspicion that the four young Black teenagers had stolen the car. But Jeylani rejects this. “The driver had license and insurance, and that was his car.” Complicating matters more, police said the stolen car they were after was a blue Honda Civic. The teenagers, however, were driving a blue Toyota Camry. But Jeylani believes he knows the real reason for his arrest. He and his friends, all four of whom are of Somali descent, were driving while Black. “I felt like that was a racial profile,” he says.

The feeling that the Minneapolis Police Department treats people of color, particularly Black and Native American residents, differently than white Minneapolitans isn’t confined to Jeylani and his friends. It’s pervasive, and now it is documented. In late 2014, the ACLU obtained arrest data from the Minneapolis Police Department for low-level offenses, such as spitting, loitering, or driving without insurance, from January 1, 2012, to September 30, 2014.

The numbers show a startling disparity in the way police enforce low-level crimes, particularly in the low-income and minority communities of North Minneapolis and South Minneapolis. Black people in the city are 8.7 times more likely than White people to be arrested for low-level offenses, and Native Americans have it little better. They are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than White people.

"We've become the new South,” warns Anthony Newby. “We've become the new premiere example of how to systematically oppress people of color. And again, it's done through our legal system, and so low-level offenses, as an example, are just one of the many, many ways that Minnesota has perfected the art of suppressing and subjugating people of color."

“Picking Up the Pieces — Policing in America, a Minneapolis Case Study” digs into the data the ACLU received from the police department and explores the who, what, when, where, why, and how of low-level arrests occurring in a city known for its affluence and liberal politics over 33 months. The report also recommends reforms to begin the process of improving police-community relations and ensure that all Minneapolitans are policed fairly.

Filmed by Maisie Crow and Molly Kaplan.

24May/150

What Is Lacking In Police Training For Rookies?

Below is an interesting discussion about the woefully inadequate selection, training and accountability processes in place within the law enforcement profession and community in this country. In addition to the perspective, there are some interesting points made about the lack of de-escalation training for officers, and the importance of racial bias / racial sensitivity trainings that are co-led by racial bias / racial equity experts, law enforcement professionals as well as community members.

It's really interesting that so few of the 'insiders' within the law enforcement community, particularly insiders who are transparent about the racism and bias within law enforcement, get lifted up in media discussions when Black people are killed by police.

This discussion notwithstanding, I still maintain that the very idea and function of law enforcement in this country is what needs to change. The increasing number of officer-involved shootings, especially involving Black people, without the corresponding reforms this should absolutely necessitate, suggests that the broader law enforcement community and judicial system sees no inherent problem.

Guests:

  • Chris Gebhardt (Salt Lake City, UT)Former Police Lieutenant
  • Chris Rosbough (Tallahassee, FL)Criminal Justice Program Director, Pegasus; Former Tampa Police Officer
  • Page Pate (Atlanta, GA)Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Ellen Kirschman Ph.D (Redwood City, CA)Police and Public Safety Psychologist

17Nov/140

Tragic Killing of Aura Rosser: Detroit Woman Killed by Police in Ann Arbor, Michigan

I just heard about this tragic incident while in Dallas, Texas this past weekend.

Aura Rosser, a Detroit woman, was killed by police officers in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the evening of Sunday, November 9th.

There appear to be far more details that haven't been shared, but the accounts of family members and person (identified as a boyfriend) who reportedly called police seeking assistance with a domestic incident suggests that the killing of Aura Rosser was likely far from necessary, and an overreaction at best.

It also seems that this story is getting far less attention than many other recent police killings.

I am sharing this with the sincere hope that far more people begin to look into this, and continue to ask for accountability in this case.

From Raw Story online

A Michigan man said he doesn’t understand why police shot and killed his girlfriend during a domestic dispute call at his home.

Victor Stephens said he called police about 11:45 p.m. Sunday seeking help because his 40-year-old girlfriend, who he said had a history of mental illness, became belligerent after they had been drinking.

“Me and her, we had an argument,” Stephens said. “Glass was being broke, so I called the police to escort her out.”

Ann Arbor police officers arrived a short time later and found Aura Rosser holding a fish knife in a well-lit area of the house.

The 54-year-old Stephens said he was in another part of the house when police announced their arrival, and he stopped moving – but he said Rosser turned toward them.

“They said ‘freeze,’ and the next thing I know I heard (gunshots),” Stephens said.

He doesn’t understand why police used their guns instead of nonlethal weapons, such as Tasers.

“Why would you kill her? He shot her in the head and in the chest,” Stephens said. “It was a woman with a knife. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Stephens said he had been dating the woman, who has two sons and a daughter, for about nine months.

See the following articles for more information...

40-year-old woman fatally shot by Ann Arbor police officer identified - November 11, 2014

Cops shoot woman after boyfriend asks for help in dispute: ‘Why would you kill her?’ - November 11, 2014

Sister of woman killed by Ann Arbor police: 'She would have fainted at the sight of the gun' - November 12, 2014

9Oct/140

St. Louis Teen Vonderrick Myers Killed By Off-Duty Cop – Earlier Tonight

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances, but what we know is that an 18-year old African American child, Vonderrick Myers Jr., was killed by an off-duty St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer working security in the Shaw area of south St. Louis.

Police officials are reporting that Myers fired on the officer, but witnesses on the scene said Myers was unarmed, and only had a sandwich in his hand. At least two witnesses said the officer tased Myers, and then proceeded to shoot him at least 16 times. They said Myers and three others were returning from a store directly across the street when the off-duty officer - serving as a security guard at the time - approached the group in his car.

Interestingly, several of the eyewitnesses said they had not been approached by any law enforcement officials to get their statements about what they witnessed. And the cops were out there for several hours after the killing, before taking the yellow tape down and opening up the street to the hundreds of protesters who gathered nearby.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

An off-duty city officer fatally shot a man who opened fire on him Wednesday night, police said.

Relatives who came to the scene, however, said the man had been unarmed. They identified the victim as Vonderrick Myers Jr., 18.

Police said the uniformed officer involved was working a secondary job for a private security company when he encountered four pedestrians in the 4100 block of Shaw Boulevard and stopped to talk with them at about 7:30 p.m.

The four fled and the officer chased one, Assistant Chief Alfred Adkins said.

The man the officer was chasing jumped from some bushes and struggled with the officer, Adkins said. The man then pulled a gun and fired at the officer, Adkins said. The officer returned fire and fatally shot the man.

The officer was not injured and a gun was recovered from the scene, police said.

The officer, 32, is a six-year veteran of the police department, Adkins said.

But in the same article, it's clear that multiple descriptions of what happened are emerging...

Teyonna Myers, 23, of Florissant, said Myers was her cousin.

“He was unarmed,” Teyonna Myers said. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.

Jackie Williams, 47, said Myers was his nephew and lived with him in the 4200 block of Castleman, near the shooting scene. He said he had talked to several people who had been with his nephew or saw the shooting.

“My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich. Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They Tased him,” Williams said. “I don’t know how this happened but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”

It should be noted that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department had already tweeted its account of what happened within less than two hours of Myers being killed.

I'm sure we'll hear more in the coming hours, days and weeks. In the meantime, folks in the St. Louis area directly, and all of us who care about the lives and well-being of Black children and families, have yet another killing of a Black person at the hands of Missouri law enforcement.

One can only wonder what's going to happen with any attempts to get this officer prosecuted, particularly given the African American community's track-record and current experiences with the St. Louis County prosecutor's office.

Even greater urgency as we approach this weekend's planned awareness-raising, demonstration and protest activities in St. Louis, Ferguson October.

Black lives absolutely matter!

5Oct/140

The Price of Blackness, Parts 1 & 2 – African American Experiences with Law Enforcement

Below are some additional perspectives on the experiences of African American communities and law enforcement.

The Price of Blackness (Part One) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.

The Price of Blackness (Part Two) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.