Police brutality against minorities across the nation is out of control. Now a group of lawyers are stepping in to try and change this. The National Bar Association (NBA) wants various cities to turn over records concerning police brutality cases. The NBA says it plans to file open records requests in 25 cities to get this info and to study allegations of police misconduct.
According to Pamela Meanes, president of the NBA, the nation’s oldest and largest national organization of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges had been planning for a nationwide campaign to fight police brutality when unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by White police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo.
The NBA selected the 25 cities based on their African-American populations and reported incidents of police brutality. They are: Birmingham, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Baltimore, Md.; Detroit; Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York City; Cleveland, Oh; Memphis, Tn., Philadelphia; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wi.
The NBA will not only seek data about “the number of individuals who have been killed, racially profiled, wrongfully arrested and/or injured while pursued or in police custody, but also comprehensive data from crime scenes, including video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees,” as well as background information on officers involved in the incidents, according to a press statement.
More importantly, the NBA says it will present its research to the attorney general’s office in hopes that Attorney General Eric Holder will take action. This is an important strategy because federal law prohibits the Justice Department from getting involved in a police department unless a pattern or history of abuse has been identified. So if the NBA can prove a pattern, the Justice Department can move forward.
Just as the NBA made this announcement, the Justice Department introduced a “Collaborative Reform Initiative” to address similar concerns with the St. Louis County Police Department as well as to improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve. And during a recent press conference to announce the new initiative, Holder added that the Department of Justice is working nationwide to ensure that the criminal justice system is fair, constitutional and free of bias, reports Afro.com.
“Ferguson and St. Louis County are not the first places that we have become engaged to ensure fair and equitable policing and they will not be the last. The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the Constitution has meaning for all communities,” said Holder.