Control the Patrol
Jesus Cervantes, 35, dialed 911 in the early hours of July 6th, 2017. He told the operator he thought he was being followed but after that, all the operator could hear was a mixture of laughter and crying. By all reasonable accounts, it sounds like Cervantes was in serious distress. Plant City Police found him and began pursuing him. Cervantes, who had already expressed fears of being followed, naturally fled from the police, possibly due to being in mental duress. The police put out a stop spike and Cervantes crashed into the BP gas station.
Within minutes, the police surrounded him and ordered him out of the vehicle. They then stated "he reached for something" and as a result, they shot him, ending his life. We believe that everyone, regardless of "their choices", deserves restorative justice and that all police should be trained and well-versed on de-escalation measures before ever considering lethal force.
Robert Washington, 33, was coming back home from a corner store he frequented in Sulphur Springs. As usual, the Tampa Police Department were staking out the area. As he was walking home, Washington could tell he was being followed.
A Tampa Police Officer asks Washington if she can "speak with him" to which he said No, as he wanted to just be home. She continued to follow him and said she needed to talk to him because he was wearing a grey hoodie. When Washington told the officer he can wear what he wants, she began to accuse him of having an attitude problem. As he was entering his own home, a team of Tampa Police officers took Washington down and many neighbors began filming.
Warning: This video may be traumatizing
Police reform is necessary to prevent violent policing and arrests. Washington was profiled; in the video you hear the Tampa Police Officer state he "looked like somebody" because he is "wearing a hoodie". While the police spent their time brutalizing Washington, the actual perpetrator is still out doing whatever they're doing. Does that make you feel safe?
Find all the footage on our YouTube channel.
Wilkela and Anthony's Story
Wilkela, a mother of four, who is a full time beautician and student in billing and coding and Anthony, who is a stay-at-home parent were just having a normal day when all of the sudden, some young men they have never seen began mugging them right in their own neighborhood. These young men were punching and kicking Anthony and even dragging him with their vehicle. Naturally, witnessing neighbors called the Tampa Police Department for help!
TPD did not call for paramedics and required the couple to give immediate statements, even though Anthony was clearly injured. This was their first time ever being a victim of a crime, and as such, the couple certainly expected to be treated more like victims, rather than criminals. A nine year old and a ten year old witnessed this horrific incident.
These young children may need some counseling to handle this trauma. So will Wilkela and Anthony. Additionally, in the mugging, Wilkela’s rent money was taken from her. Tragically, this is right before she was able to buy everything she needed for back to school. The incident occurred near Nicko's restaurant, right smack in Seminole Heights.
We are asking our community to show some compassion for these victims, which our police did not do, and provide as much as you are able to contribute so they can restore from this incident and live their lives.
Details on Our Demands
We do not claim that our demands will create perfect police departments nor that in some cases our demands may not result in a different set of problems (such as budgetary). However, our concern is human life and civil rights, in that order. Everything else is far below that.
Currently, the FDLE is investigating cases of murder by police. The FDLE works closely with these police departments. That would be like your cousin investigating you. It is going to be riddled with bias. State Attorney's also work closely with these agencies and therefore, they will also have a bias.
Independent Civilian Review Board
A diversified civilian review board will help build trust between the community and the police. Instead of police departments reviewing themselves, a paid team nominated by the public, review all cases of murder, severe injury, deadly force or any public complaints. Police will no longer be investigated by the brothers and sisters in other departments. Now, they'll have someone to be accountable to. The review board in and of itself will be accountable to the public.
Body Cameras and Dashboard Cameras
If regulated properly, these tools can be useful for the above review boards to properly analyse what actually happened during a deadly force incident or even in the event of a public complaint regarding a police officer. Civil rights injustices can cause people injury, death or incarceration. Wouldn't you rather the peace of mind to know that it isn't your word verses theirs?
Comprehensive Implicit Bias Training
Let's face it, due to the media and our education structures, we all have some bias! Let's have our police take on to annual bias training, so we can confront it head on before someone's civil liberties (or their life) is robbed of them.
Cultural and Community Competency
People of color, poor people, the houseless, trans people, queer people, disabled people and mentally ill people often face violence and rights violations at the hands of police. Thorough and comprehensive training designed by community experts as part of the police training program can help reduce negative, lethal and dangerous interactions between these communities and the police. By understanding each other, we can trust each other.
Deadly Force Policies
Policies in place to reduce and eliminate deadly force not only protect civilians, it also protects police. These common sense policies should make it a sure-fire point that police can truly serve and protect, even in the most hostile of situations.
Police violence does not just include killing. As activists, we are here to do the work to stop police violence. While we think and act locally, police accountability is a national concern. We aim to create structures and systems of accountability that ensure our police are working for us in an ethical, practical and safe manner.
We present the following as evidence of why we need more measures to ensure just law enforcement.
Police Sexual Assault with a Smile
Police Problems in Hillsborough County
Taxpayers Pay for Affair (Plant City)
Wrong Way Officer (HCSO)
Off the Handle Deputy (HCSO)
No Food for You (HCSO)