From the Ohio Green Party:
Cleveland OH: –The Green Party of Ohio backs the decision of the Department of Justice to impose a consent decree on the Cleveland Division of Police in response to a finding of “A pattern of excessive force” dating back years.
The recent death of 12 year old Tamir Rice, shot by an officer of the CPD, within seconds of that officer’s arrival on scene is just the latest example of the “shoot first and ask questions later” actions of the Cleveland Police.
In November of this year, Tanisha Anderson,a mentally ill 37 year old woman, died shortly after an encounter with officers who used a takedown maneuver to force her cooperation after she became agitated during attempted transport to a medical facility.
In late 2012, two members of the Cleveland community, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, were killed under a 137 round barrage after a police chase that was initiated after their car backfired and an officer mistook the sound for gunshots. Both Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams were unarmed at the time of their deaths.
These examples show that certain members of the Cleveland Division of Police have exhibited a callous disregard for the community they are tasked with serving.
Cleveland’s issues with their police force are hardly an isolated event. From the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City to the beating of a minority woman, while in custody, by members of the Jasper, Texas PD, the trend is tragically obvious.
Police Departments across the country are acting less than organizations dedicated to serve and protect and more like an occupying army. This attitude extends to those who serve as county and city prosecutors as well. In three of the aforementioned cases, Grand Juries have returned no charges against the officers involved. Grand Juries are controlled by prosecutors, who have the ability to present only that evidence that leads to a desired result.
The criminal justice system in our country is broken and it is past time to overhaul it and ensure that the breakdown of that system, particularly in communities of color, is reversed.
A system that incarcerates Black and Latino residents at a level far surpassing the ratio of their numbers in the general population serves no-one.
A system that refuses to charge officers when those officers act outside of the bounds of departmental policy and established law serves no-one.
The Green Party of Ohio is calling for the indictment of the CPD officers involved in the death of Tamir Rice, his short life can best be honored by avoiding a Grand Jury proceeding, which is too often used by prosecutors as a means of political cover. Let the officers have their day in court, a privilege that Tamir Rice was denied.
We also call for the US DOJ to continue their investigations of situations where unarmed individuals are killed or assaulted by police officers.
Far too many local departments have in their employ individuals who do not deserve the title “officer of the law”. Revised training, updated policies on use of force, and ridding departments of officers who have racial biases are all necessary and needed steps.