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Green Party demands Independent Citizens’ Review Boards for Police

 The Green Party urges the establishment of independent citizens’ review boards to probe surges in police violence and prosecute abuses

  • Report cited on the extrajudicial killing of Blacks once every 36 hours in the US
  • Greens seek measures to prevent police violence against peaceful protesters outside upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions

The Green Party called two recent reports on police violence evidence of systematic abuses of power by police departments, especially in their treatment of young black and brown men and of people who engage in public protest.  Green Party candidates and leaders said the reports are supported by numerous reports of incidents in which police used deadly force against people of color, immigrants, and nonviolent protesters.

Don Cook

Don Cook

“The police abuses taking place in many cities and states require independent investigation by citizens’ review boards, followed by prosecution,” said Don Cook, Green Party candidate for Congress in Texas’ 22nd District and Harris County Green Party liason with the National Black United Front, New Black Panthers, and others in the Black Justice Tuesday Coalition. “When such crimes go unpunished, police believe they have a license to commit further crimes. Unless these patterns of crime and impunity change, we can consider ourselves to be living in a police state. This is not law, security, or order. It’s the opposite of law, security, and order.”

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement has published a “Report on Black People Executed without Trial by Police, Security Guards and Self-Appointed Law Enforcers January 1 – June 30, 2012” which documented the extrajudicial killing of a Black person once every 36 hours on average for the first half of 2012. The number includes “the killing of 13 year-old children, fathers taking care of their kids, women driving the wrong cars, as well as people with mental health and drug problems.” (http://mxgm.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/07_24_Report_all_rev_protected.pdf / http://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-110-black-people/
Greens also cited recent shootings and violent reprisals by police against Latino residents in Anaheim, California, in the wake of the killing of Manuel Diaz by an officer, as well as out-of-control border patrols, humiliating stop-and-frisk policies that usually target young people of color (most famously in New York City, with Mayor Bloomberg’s support), police harassment and arrest of bystanders and citizens attempting to record police actions on cell phones and cameras, and the use of “Homeland Security” resources for civilian police work.

Isabel Espinal of the Green Party’s Latino Caucus (http://gp.org/latino) said:

What we need in our Latino communities is support for the people who live there — support for hard working families regardless of their immigration status. We don’t need taxpayer-funded violence which only serves to promote more violence. We need investment in our communities, not violations of the human rights of Latinos and African Americans.

See also “Stein, Honkala deplore shooting of unarmed citizens,” press release from Green presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala, July 24, 2012 (http://www.jillstein.org/stein_honkala_deplore_shooting_of_unarmed_citizens).

Green Party leaders noted that President Obama has used the drug war as a job stimulus program, increasing funding for President Reagan’s Byrne program and reinstating President Clinton’s COPS program. These programs channel millions in federal funding to local police forces who wage the drug war locally by targeting communities of color, despite the fact that the majority of US drug users and dealers are white (See ‘The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness’, book by Michelle Alexander, http://www.newjimcrow.com).

Ken Wolski, Green Candidate for the US Senate from New Jersey (https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfKenWolski) said:

The latest surges in police abuses can’t be separated from developments in law enforcement and incarceration in recent years. The US has the world’s highest prison population, with mostly black, brown, and poor people locked up to feed a private prison industry that profits from filling up cells. The War on Drugs has destroyed families and communities by placing thousands of young people behind bars, very often on nonviolent offenses. Zero tolerance and mandatory sentencing have also expanded the Prison-Industrial Complex.

Greens said that similar mindsets and policies in many police departments have placed Americans in danger for exercising their First Amendment rights to public protest, especially after police responses to the Occupy protests since Fall 2011. In many cases, police escaped punishment by hiding their names and shield numbers.

A report published by the Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law) and Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Fordham Law School) found

frequent alleged incidents of unnecessary and excessive police use of force against protesters, bystanders, journalists, and legal observers; constant obstructions of media freedoms, including arrests of journalists; unjustified and sometimes violent closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and corralling and trapping protesters en masse. Pervasive surveillance of peaceful political activity, arbitrary and selective rule enforcement, and restrictions on independent protest monitoring also raise serious concerns.” (“Suppressing Protest: Human Rights Violations in the US Response to Occupy Wall Street, http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/403969-suppressing-protest.html)

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