Let Us Protest w/o Hurting Us! Notes from the Police Review Commission Meeting on 4/12
Special thanks to Christy Wade for this recap! We appreciate you.
What happened? Tell us the main points in your own words.:
The meeting that I am reporting on was for the City of Sacramento for the Sacramento Community Police Review Commission. The ACLU of Northern California and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area submitted a letter/report to the Sacramento Police Department (SPD) stating that the SPD manual fails to adequately address excess force. This report was sent to Police Chief Daniel Hahn but so far the report has not been reviewed and no feedback has been provided to that branch of the ACLU. Deputy Chief Lester and two Commissioners Bliss and Kamora were present in the meeting. The ACLU stated that the policies in SPD’s manual haven’t been revised since December 1998 and the General Order 532-11, which provides information on excessive force has not been updated. The SPD website also doesn’t provide a link for General Order 532-11. Since the link is not available it causes issues with transparency and the public doesn’t know what general order is now guiding crowd control and riot control. The SPD manual needs to be updated and a separate General Order should be created that provides guidelines on crowd and riot control.
The other issue is that there are multiple locations in the manual that discuss lethal use of force but they are not related to crowd control or riot control. SPD should adopt clear policies on uses of force related to crowd control especially when it relates to protesters who are trying to protest peacefully without antagonizing the police.
Since SPD has unclear policies, different individuals who participated in the protests last year in Sacramento when George Floyd was killed, were injured or hurt by the police while peacefully protesting.
Three individuals that were hurt during the protest were Francisco Kuhl, Leeza Soto and Robert Yannacone.
Francisco Kuhl was tear gassed multiple times by police. Leeza Soto had told the police she was leaving when the curfew was enacted. She held up a cone for self-defense just in case the police tried to do something to her and asked them to please leave her alone. The officers told her to drop the cone and when she failed to do so they knocked her to the ground and handcuffed her. Rober Yannacone’s arm was broken when a police officer hit her with a baton but it was intended for someone else.
Primary Factors for reasonable or Excessive Force 1. Severity or the crime or issue 2. Whether the suspect possesses a threat to the safety of the officers or others 3. Whether a person is actively resisting an arrest or attempting to evade arrest
Recommendations were made by the ACLU for protocols for officers to use for minimum force which included the following:
1. Identify minimal range of tactics for responding 2. Require officers to engage in strategies for de-escalation 3. Permit escalation to more forceful tactics only when less intrusive alternatives have failed. 4. Provide officers with clear guidelines about force when it shouldn’t be used instead of articulating what reasonable force is. 5. SPD must adopt policies that de-emphasize the role of the police and the appropriateness of police interaction during protests. 6. Emphasize that crowds are diverse and adopt protocols to ensure officers may not indiscriminately use force on members of a crowd because others may present a security risk. 7. Provide officers guidance on the types of force that can no longer be employed.
Why is this important for social justice? Are there important next steps on this issue? What should SJPC readers do? : For SJPC It is imperative that citizens in our community are involved and give feedback on what is most important to them on how the police should act, interact and respond to certain situations in the community especially when it involves communities of color. The Sacramento Community Police Review Commission was created to provide community participation in reviewing and recommending police department policies, practices, and procedures, and to monitor the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of city policing initiatives and programs. SPD's policies should be revised to align with Sacramento law and there should be clear and concise policies that emphasize on how the police should conduct themselves dealing with crowd and riot control. The policies should reflect what community members find most appropriate to use in Sacramento. People are in fear when they protest and when they are under surveillance by the police. Deputy Chief Lister who participated in the meeting was asked why the policies weren’t updated and she said she didn’t know but they would be going through a revision. She was also asked why General Order 532-11 was not currently available on the City of Sacramento's website and she said she didn't know but the website and the policies are being revised. She was also asked if there were policies on police surveillance but she said she couldn't answer the question. She also indicated she had not seen the letter sent by the ACLU. She said she will evaluate the policies and look into information for crowd and riot control. She asked that questions be submitted to the Office of Public Safety Accountability (OPSA) and OPSA will send the questions to SPD so she can review them. We must protect the rights of the citizens of Sacramento to be able to walk and speak freely in the streets of Sacramento to voice their concerns, issues and to demand the right for change. Our citizens should be able to speak on the things that they believe should be changed whether it is with law, legislation, policies or practices but we should not be attacked just because we want to use our voices. Our voices are our Freedom of Speech and we should not be attacked by the police when we are simply asking that our voices be heard. Police reform can start by reviewing, evaluating and revising the current policies that are in place if they are old, outdated and if they do not conform or comply with the current laws, legislation or current practices. Sacramento citizens should feel safe when they protest and not feel fear or feel intimidated, or be harassed, hurt or injured by the police simple because they want their voices to be heard.
Amen to that sis!