Petition to Gayle Brill-Mittler, Elsie Foster-Dublin, Philip George, Matthew Hersh, Stephany Kim, Susan Welkovits, Josh Fine
Taking on Racial Bias and Racial Profiling in Highland Park Policing
On March 15, 2018, a young, black Highland Park resident, returning home from visiting with his former classmates and teachers at Highland Park High School, noticed a photo opportunity - an empty intersection that would work perfectly for a school project. He took the photo, walked over to his home across the street, and entered through his front door. Within minutes, five police cars were parked in front of his home, an undercover detective questioning his mother at the door, others circling behind the house. A neighbor reports seeing the detective at the door draw his gun and return it to his holster just before the mother opened the door. The excessive police presence was the result of an undercover detective’s dispatch mischaracterizing the young man’s mundane movements as suspicious and misrepresenting him as “running through the backyard of the house.” Fortunately, his mother was home to defuse the terrifying encounter, so her son was neither arrested nor physically harmed. But the incident bears the marks of racial profiling and includes the kind of excessive police response that often ends in unnecessary arrest, injury, or death to the black and brown people who are targeted by police across the United States. This is not an isolated incident in Highland Park, either. Many residents of color have experienced racial profiling, and the Boro has a decades-old reputation in the region for being a place to avoid because of a history of unnecessary traffic stops that disproportionately target people of color. An analysis of nearly two years of data obtained from the Highland Park Police Department found that Black people accounted for 58% of use of force incidents with the police despite accounting for only 6% of the town population. We are a group of concerned residents who are demanding that the Highland Park Police Department, Mayor Gayle Brill-Mittler, and the Boro Council take action now towards ending racial bias and racial profiling in Highland Park so that all of its residents and passers-through may live without the fear that comes with being disparately policed. Specifically, we are calling for the HPPD and HP Boro Council to take the following steps: Hire an independent auditor with expertise in racial profiling and policing to perform a comprehensive audit of HPPD focused on identifying and assessing racial disparities and potential patterns of racial bias. The auditing firm should be selected through a transparent, community-responsive process. Initiate in-depth and sustained training in implicit racial bias and de-escalation strategies for current and prospective HPPD officers. Develop a plan for ongoing review and analysis of policing data that includes representation from the community and is focused on increased transparency and the identification of racial disparities and potential patterns of racial bias. Establish a complaint process that is clearly communicated and easily accessible to the community, including an anonymous option. Create an all-civilian oversight structure with an allocated budget. Evaluate the current roles and responsibilities of the Human Relations Commission. Adopt and implement a bias-free policing policy. We invite you to join us in our request that the Highland Park Police Department, Mayor Gayle Brill-Mittler, and the Boro Council take up these common-sense steps to ensure equitable policing in the Boro.
Petition to Howard Schultz, Kevin Johnson
Say No to Boycotting Starbucks. Say Yes to Starbucks Supporting Nat'l Policing Legislation
We've sent a letters to Starbucks' chief executives, asking them to help galvanize corporate support for URLEIA—national policing legislation. We believe Starbucks would be an active corporate partner, given the Race Together initiative Starbucks launched following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. URLEIA (The Uniform Reporting Law Enforcement Improvement Act) is a sweeping legislative proposal that has already garnered support from law enforcement organizations, Blacks in Government, university professors and community organizations across the nation. We are currently working to make URLEIA law. NOTE: www.ChangeIsOnUs.org is the website of ONUS, Inc.—the organization advancing URLEIA. Change.org (this platform) is not affiliated with ONUS, Inc.
Petition to Jerry Brown, California State Senate, California State House, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Xavier Becerra
Ensure equality and transparency in law enforcement prosecutions
The goal of California Constitutional Amendment Initiative 17-022 is to ensure equality and transparency in law enforcement prosecutions. We've all been inundated with stories of police-involved deaths over the past few years. Many of these cases have been played out on social media and the news through video clips of the incidents as they happened, some in real-time. This has sparked a massive movement to change policing practices and policies in this country. A movement that has been stymied by consistent pushback centered founded on a central belief - "This country doesn't have a policing problem. It's just a few bad apples." However, the prevalence of this belief has not translated into specific policies designed to address those 'bad apples.' California Initiative 17-022 is an attempt to change that. While the majority of the policing reform efforts have been focused directly on police conduct (body cameras, training, citizen oversight boards, etc.), there is a secondary violence that must also be addressed - the inability to obtain justice in cases where the State considers an officer's conduct to be that of a 'bad apple'. The bar for prosecution of law enforcement officers for unjustified use of force, even in the most obvious-looking cases, is seen to be too high for prosecutors to bring a charge. And when a charge is brought, the essentially unchecked leeway given to officers who claim self-defense creates an almost insurmountable barrier to conviction. It is our belief that the bar for successfully prosecuting law enforcement officers has been artificially raised due to a common misconception that the US Supreme Court created a special legal class for law enforcement officers in criminal prosecutions of use of force cases. We believe that the holding from Graham v. Connor, a civil rights case, has seeped into the popular and legal consciousness as a general standard for all instances of law enforcement use of force. Currently, there is an assumption that the Supreme Court ruled that an officer's use of force in self-defense or the defense of others is held to a different standard than that of an ordinary citizen in both civil and criminal cases. This simply is not true. Therefore, California Initiative 17-022 attempts to do the following: Clarify that the current state of the law regarding prevailing on a claim of self defense in a criminal prosecution does not make a distinction between law enforcement officers and the citizenry Ensure that any future changes to criminal self defense laws that attempt to differentiate between the citizenry and law enforcement officers do not lower the standard of reasonableness for law enforcement officers below that of the citizenry Require trials involving prosecutions of law enforcement officers for delineated crimes to be heard by a jury Our petition has been cleared for circulation by the Secretary of State (petition 1818). We are asking that you take up the cause through formal channels.