Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition Rallies and Lobbies for Police Reform in Maryland
February 27, 2016 by Thomas Nephew
Maryland Police Reform press conference on February 23
This post is a modification of the original post by Thomas Nephew at Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition
MCCRC’s Thomas Nephew and over a hundred other advocates of police reform descended on Annapolis on Tuesday to press their case for real police reform andagainst measures like “Recommendation 23”— packing brutality hearing boards with members favorable to the accused — that would set back that cause.
It was a full day of education and advocacy, including a press conference, a hearing on the police reform measures, and meetings with legislators and their aides.
The hashtag for the day was #NoRec23.Activists demanded that any reform package should:
• Reduce the unfair advantage given to officers accused of brutality:
• Don’t let bad cops choose who reviews their own brutality cases.
• Allow trained civilians to sit on trial boards, ESPECIALLY in brutality cases.
• Provide local civilian review boards with subpoena power to question officers accused of misconduct.
• Eliminate the 5 day window that bad cops use to manufacture their story.
• Outlaw collusion between officers so they don’t lie to protect each other.
• Treat victims of brutality as well as all other victims fairly:
• Open up who can file brutality complaints.
• Eliminate the time restriction on when complaints can be filed.
A press conference before the hearing featured advocates bedecked in yellow “Caution” ribbons indicating the strong reservations about that element and others of the House and Senate leadership omnibus police reform bill HB1016 (now crossfiled as Senate bill SB1026).
Larry Stafford (Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability, MCJPA) led off comments with a remembrance of Marshawn Carroll, a smart, committed young African American Ohio man who had worked with Larry and MCJPA here briefly before returning to Columbus, where he committed suicide earlier this month. “What has not been reported widely was that before he took his life, he had actually lost a friend to police violence in Ohio. And so recognizing the pain and the trauma that is inflicted on communities across this country when their loved ones lives are lost through police violence, or their freedom is infringed upon because of police misconduct and abuse of their authority, it’s because of that that we’re here today.” Other speakers included:
• William Rau (Caucus of African American Leaders): “…our elected officials are policymakers who are acting on our behalf. These walls, this carpet, this podium, the pomp and circumstance, the parliamentary procedure, that is all put into place to do our will. We must remember that…we are challenging a process that has run amuk. […] We must let them know we’re paying attention to every single word and every single comment.”
• Marion Gray-Hopkins (Coalition of Concerned Mothers): “…most importantly, I am a survivor. My son Gary Hopkins was murdered by the police November 27th 1999. I’m here with Greta Willis whose son Kevin Cooper was murdered in Baltimore City. I’m here with Darlene Cain whose son Dale Graham was murdered in Baltimore City in 2008. And… there are other mothers who are not here who I am representing: Dorothy Elliot – son: Archie Elliot, murdered – over 20+ bullets while he was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, and it was alleged that there was a gun. I’m here for Gina Best whose daughter India Kator was murdered in Virginia. This is not just about Maryland.”
• Rev. Jamila Woods Jones (Jabez Christian Community Church):“This is not a new issue, we’ve been coming here for years, with the same issues, the same concerns. And while we’re happy that we’re moving forward, we want to acknowledge that there are some fatal flaws that *must* be addressed if we’re going to make this a truly transparent effort that is beneficial to everyone. … Now we’re calling on our legislators, we’re demanding that our legislators hear the cry of the people. That’s all I have to say.”
• Sophia Marjanovic: “…during my divorce I met a county sheriff whose conduct concerned me about his neglect of duty and misconduct. I made a complaint of misconduct with the county sheriff’s department. The department did not advise me about whether they’d be investigating the case, and never advised me about whether there was an outcome of an investigation. […] I was later ordered to work with the same sheriff against whom I filed the complaint. […] I’m concerned about retaliation because the officer shouted at me that he didn’t want me filing a complaint against him again. […] I ask that the agency be required to inform the complainant of the outcome of an investigation.”
• Kirkland Hall (Somerset County NAACP): “I’m here speaking for a young lady who had been voiceless after what happened to her in 2009. … The Maryland State Police called her home looking for a young man who had escaped from a work release team. She wasn’t there. But he left a message. He said ‘My name is Sergeant Milo, Maryland State Police. We need for you to call us.’ When he thought he had hung up the phone, he made this statement: ‘I’m getting sick and tired of calling these n*****s on the telephone with these long voice messages.’ […] We could hear other police officers laughing on the phone. Which tells me there’s a culture of the police department. Which tells me that they are very familiar with the words of Chief Justice Taney many years ago, that a black man has no rights which a white man should respect.”
• Lawrence Grandpre (Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle):“Some people think this issue of police reform is complicated. I don’t think so. You can look at the words of the people who represent the establishment to see what the problem is. A few days ago [Delegate] Curt Anderson was on the radio. And he said ‘This trial board thing, it doesn’t matter. That’s internal, that’s kind of like a court martial. So we don’t need non-police officers on that board. Think about that. An elected official in Maryland just said that we should have military style justice for civilian police forces. It’s a small step when you isolate a community and produce a military style accountability system; soon enough you’ll get military style application of policing on the streets.”