One year after George Floyd
“I just want to be clear that justice is black people who do not die at the hands of the police,” said Harrison tuttle, executive director of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC (BLM RI PAC). “Justice is like ending state-sanctioned violence, ending systemic problems that cause inequities in housing and education and, more importantly, the police.
“And we need to look to reinvest in the areas that need it most instead of spending more money on law enforcement and less money on our needed services.”
Tuttle was speaking to a crowd of nearly 100 people on the south steps of the Rhode Island State House at a rally to commemorate the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. George Floyd was murdered by a policeman Derek chauvin one year ago. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, suffocating him to death, on video. Chauvin was convicted of murder. The rally came with a demand: BLM RI PAC and many other social and racial groups and activists in Rhode Island are calling for the complete repeal of LEOBOR, the Bill of Rights for Law Enforcement Officials.
LEOBoR provides a list of special protections for Rhode Island police officers accused of misconduct, including:
- Under LEOBoR, an agent can only be suspended for two days. The repeal gives police officers the same protections as all other state / city officials.
- Under LEOBoR, the disciplinary hearing committee is made up of three people, one chosen by the chief of police, one by the accused officer and a “neutral” chosen with the agreement of the other two arbitrators. The repeal would allow the chief of police to determine the appropriate action, restoring fault liability to the police service.
- Under LEOBoR, police chiefs and political leaders are prohibited from speaking about discipline that officers may or may not receive. The repeal has no limits on declarations, the same standards as all other state / city officials.
Rhode Island is one of 15 states in the United States with LEOBoR, the only state in New England with LEOBoR, and the only northern state with LEOBoR. Most states, including neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut, do well without him.
Returning to Tuesday night’s rally, Tuttle called for a moment of silence in memory of George Floyd. Tuttle then reminded attendees that in a recent Rhode Island Senate hearing, about 75 people had testified in favor of a senator’s bill. Tiara mack (Democrat, District 6, Providence), S0773, which would repeal LEOBoR in its entirety.
Tuttle said the ball is now in Senators’ court Cynthia Armor Coyne (Democrat, District 32, Barrington) and Stephen archambault (Democrat, District 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence), who chairs and co-chairs the committee. Not said during the rally, it is that Coyne and Archameault are both former Rhode Island State Police officers.
“Do they want to listen to the community and put this to a vote?” Tuttle asked. “I want everyone to understand that if this does not pass, it is because the judicial committee and members of the judicial committee like Senator Archambault, like Senator Coyne, do not want this to pass.
“I remember the assassination of George Floyd last year like it was yesterday,” said Joyce Wise, former executive director of BLM RI PAC. “I was literally watching a video of a man being murdered by a police officer. It was honestly the longest nine minutes and 29 seconds of my life …
“George Floyd could easily have been me, my sons and so many others like me and all the other blacks and browns and natives. He did not willingly give his life for this cause. He has been murdered. I categorically and shamelessly use the platform God gave me to stress the importance of cutting police funding …
“We can no longer trust the academy to produce officers who will serve and protect us all … Our communities no longer need them and they no longer serve a purpose in our community …”
Police are not the only example of systemic racism in Rhode Island.
“During this pandemic, we know that black and brown communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid,” Tuttle noted, noting that vaccine distribution was also not equitable.
“Indifference is not going to pave the way for justice,” said Dr Luis Daniel Muñoz, who is a Democratic candidate for governor of Rhode Island. Dr. Muñoz helped lead a community of color vaccination effort in Rhode Island. “And the point is, indifference is pretty pervasive in all institutions, whether it’s the police or the building behind us.
Dr. Muñoz noted the differences in police auditing here in Rhode Island and the national standards used by most police departments in the United States. Here in Rhode Island, these reviews are based on about half of the metrics used nationally.
“Why are we limiting our investigation of police practices here in Rhode Island?” Dr. Muñoz asked. “Is racial justice a practice – is racial justice a principle police systems even think about?”
Senator Tiara Mack, joining the rally just after the Rhode Island Senate closed its day’s work, spoke of systemic and racial violence.
“The violence of families who are forced to take several low-paying jobs in order to provide housing and food for their young people. The violence of the lack of quality schools in our communities. The violence of not having access to critical health care. The violence of a system that does not believe that every person in our community deserves respect, regardless of identity, race of religion, ”said Senator Mack.
“This is the violence that we still haven’t talked about at the state level yet,” continued Senator Mack. “There have been many demonstrations of solidarity for the lives of blacks. There has been very little progress in changing the way blacks and Maroons and low income people experience real, tangible change on the precipice of a national and global conversation about how we view racism, not only in our policies but in our practices. of these policies.
“Since the events of last summer and the marches where this region numbered tens of thousands of people, we have elected more black leaders, we have elected more leaders of color, but we still have policymakers and bearers. door that will not pass the legislation that black, brown, indigenous and low income communities are fighting for in our State House …
“We still have no police responsibility in our state. We still have the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights, which prevents us from being accountable to the police. We just got a way to $ 15, we haven’t gotten real pay justice in our state yet. We fought the Rhode Islanders’ richest taxes. We are not yet committed to ensuring that everyone in our state pays their fair share so that we can fund our schools. So that we can finance our health infrastructure. So that we can finance the community resources that we need …
“These are the things that we fight for and for which we must continue to fight …”
“It was a difficult day for me today,” said Mark Fisher from Black Lives Matter RI, reflecting on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. “I was struggling emotionally. I was crying for myself… and even though the crowds have diminished, the passion is still there and it will take amazing leadership and ordinary people to do amazing things.
Harrison Tuttle closed the rally with a call or people to join with all the other major social justice groups working in Rhode Island. (And he gave a special shout to UpriseRI!)