Calls for an End the Militarization of the BPD, “Do the right Thing” in Regards to Cariol Horne, and Empower a Citizens Review Board to Monitor Police
The Concerned Coalition of WNY sent the following letter to Mayor Brown:
For over 400 years African Americans have been suffering under a system of institutional racism which has caused great pain and inequity for generations. American enslavement; being deemed 3/5 of a man or woman; Jim Crow and police brutality African Americans continue to suffer the traumas of dehumanization in this American experience. One of the most virulent 21st century displays of this is found in the frequent murder of unarmed African Americans at the hands and “knees” of law enforcement who are sworn to protect and to serve; but in everyday reality they seek and destroy Black and Brown bodies.
The recent murders of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky in Minneapolis, Minnesota and George Floyd have unleashed the righteous anger of people of all ethnicities who have collectively said “enough is enough.” Here in Buffalo we have struggled with several incidences where Black and Brown citizens have felt the sting of violent abuses of power at the hands of the sworn men and women of the Buffalo Police Department. The recent trampling of a 75-year-old peaceful pro-tester by policemen in full riot attire while others callously ignored his dire need for assistance, clearly demonstrates that there are serious structural defects within the Buffalo Police Department(BPD).
As Clergy and as members of this community we are outraged not only of the instances of police brutality in Minneapolis and Louisville, but, also in the brutality that we have witnessed in Buffalo.
In order to properly address the situation here in Buffalo we the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York must insist that you, as the Chief Executive of this City implement the following short-term remedies:
1.End the militarization of the BPD. The overwhelming majority of citizens have been peacefully executing their constitutional rights to expression and assembly. There have been some acts of violence and vandalism but it does not warrant turning Buffalo into an occupied city with law enforcement officers in riot gear, tear gassing citizens along with the ominous threat of armored military vehicles on the streets of the City. Furthermore, the setting of curfews only serves to antagonize people who have the right to peacefully protest the historic and current injustices in America.
2.One of the saddest segments of George Floyd’s murder is that several police officers stood idly by while he cried, “I can’t breathe” and gave him no assistance. Ironically, there was an incident in Buffalo when a police officer was choking a citizen and Officer Cariol Horne would not allow the brutalization of another human being at the hands of her law enforcement colleagues. Her intervention prevented an Eric Garner like death on the streets of Buffalo. Her rewards were the destruction of her career, bankruptcy and the trauma of suffering for doing the right thing. We must insist that you do the right thing with regard to Officer Cariol Horne. Restore her to her position as a Buffalo Police Officer, this will enable her to draw the pension that she earned and deserves.
3.Community policing is a model that has successfully enhanced community police relations in many cities across the nation and around the world. When executed properly it will reduce crime, create a real partnership with citizens and law enforcement and everyone will be safer. We must insist that Buffalo develop a new and more robust community policing initiative. Moreover, Buffalo must empower an expert in community policing with a track record of success in diverse cities and charge him/her to develop and implement a new vision for community policing in Buffalo. We must insist that a Citizens Review Board be empowered to provide the proper oversight for both the community and BPD.
These are very perilous times for people of all ethnicities and social positions in Buffalo and around the nation. However, crisis creates opportunity for change and growth. It is our expectations that you will provide the bold, courageous leadership that is required in this moment. As we have demonstrated in the past, we are committed to working with you to make this community a city of peace and prosperity for all citizens.
The Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York