BUFFALO – Faith leaders with VOICE Buffalo, a federation of Faith in Action, penned the following letter addressing the assault of Quentin Suttles by the hands of Buffalo police on May 10, 2020. A video of the incident shows Suttles being stopped by police and removed from his vehicle by officers. The ensuing struggle between Suttles and police resulted in a broken collarbone, a damaged eye socket, and a broken arm, among other bruises and injuries. The organization has issued the below response:
“We, the Faith Leaders, clergy members, and community leaders of VOICE Buffalo, wish to express our deep concern regarding the incident that took place on Sunday, May 10, 2020 between Mr. Quentin Suttles and two officers of the Buffalo Police Department. Having reviewed the video, we find the officers’ treatment of Mr. Suttles to be an excessive and unacceptable use of physical force.
“Police brutality remains one of the most serious and divisive of the human rights violations in our country. Any excessive use of force, whether it be beatings, shootings, or otherwise rough treatment, can persist because of the overwhelming lack of accountability for officers. This makes it continually possible for officers who carry out such actions to escape punishment and repeat such dangerous and deadly behavior.
“The incident is under investigation by the Internal Affairs Division of the Buffalo Police Department. But it is a fact that police departments are funded by the public. Therefore, police should be accountable to the public and furthermore, police departments should not investigate themselves. VOICE Buffalo calls for enforceable, impartial accountability measures for when issues of police brutality, improper use of force, or racial bias emerge.
“Without objective external investigative measures, this lack of accountability, such as the failure to discipline or prosecute abusive officers and the failure to deter abuse by denying promotions and/or particular assignments because of prior abusive behavior, will only continue. Far too often, municipalities cover for police misconduct to reduce their liability and to avoid angering the police union. As long as police departments insulate officers from the consequences of their conduct, nothing will change.
“We therefore call for Commissioner Lockwood and the Buffalo Police Department to immediately suspend the officers involved without pay until the investigation is complete. Allowing the officers to remain on our community streets may create more unnecessary incidents and will certainly create unrest of residents. Justice is best demonstrated when coupled with transparency, honesty, and accountability.
Yours in Faith,
Whitney Walker, VOICE Buffalo Executive Director
Pastor John Sullivan, New Cedar Grove Life Changing Church and VOICE Board of Directors
Rev. Kwame Pitts, Crossroads Lutheran Church and VOICE Board of Directors
Pastor Lee Miller, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and VOICE Board of Directors
Pastor Nancy Rosas, Pilgrim St. Luke’s/El Nuevo Camino Church
Rev. Joan Montagnes, Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo
Pastor Gerard Williams, Unity Fellowship Church
Fr. Matt Lincoln, Trinity Episcopal Church
(image that appears in this post is a screen shot from the video of Police Assault on Quentin Suttles that went viral )