CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Branch of the NAACP is demanding local police reform after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Desmond Franklin.
“Now is not the time for us to lose steam or lose focus on the task at hand, we need real lasting reform and more than lip service from our elected officials. None of our citizen’s are safe if all of our citizens are not safe”, said president Danielle Sydnor. “Photo ops and press releases will not convince us of that commitment, only change in policy and better accountability for misconduct will suffice.”
Though Cleveland already has groups like the Cleveland Community Police Commission overseeing police actions and use of force. In addition, policy changes at the Cleveland police department were mandated by the Department of Justice under a five-year consent decree, which was put in place after an investigation found a patter of force within the department. Still, Sydnor more needs to be done.
"The decree only is as good as its enforcement, so we need more enforcement from the office of professional standards. They need to be able to have more authority than just making recommendations that can easily be overturned," Sydnor explained. "We have a role in activating justice and showing up and making our voices heard."
The NAACP wants the Cleveland Police Department to be the face of police reform statewide.
They are calling for:
- A ban on the use of knee holds and choke holds as an acceptable practice for any police officer.
- The Use of Force Continuum for any police department in the country must ensure that there are at least 6 levels of steps, with clear rules on escalation.
- Each State’s Open Records Act must ensure officer misconduct information and disciplinary histories are not shielded from the public. Recertification credentials may be denied for police officers if determined that their use of deadly force was unwarranted by federal guidelines.
- Implementation of Citizen Review Boards in municipalities, with subpoena power, to hold police departments accountable and build public confidence.
- Screening and interviewing practices to eliminate individuals with high propensity to use excessive force.
But that's not all.
The NAACP is calling on the United Nations to step up and classify the mistreatment of Black people in the U.S. as a human rights violation and to impose sanctions if necessary. Sydnor says doing so could force change on the federal, state and local level.
"At minimum if the UN were to come in and say yes, the United States of America has human right violation against its black citizens then that changes the conversation. That cause our federal government to have to begin to act and do different things," she said.