Protesters Occupy Police Unions, Demand Investment In Black Communities

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Above Photo: BYP100 / Twitter

Black Lives Matter protesters taking aim at police union offices forced a shutdown of one in Washington, DC. Simultaneously in Detroit, activists chained themselves to a police station to demand the ouster of an officer who shot dead a 7-year-old in 2010.

Protests, held by Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and Black Lives Matter, hit several cities across the US on Wednesday.

July 20 would have been the 14th birthday of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was shot dead in a SWAT raid on her house in May 2010. It was Detroit officer Joseph Weekley who killed seven-year-old Aiyana as she slept next to her grandmother. After a five-year process and two mistrials, Weekley returned to work in April 2015, cleared of all charges.

More than six years since the fatal raid, BYP100 and Black Lives Matter staged protests not only in Detroit, but also in DC, New York, Chicago and Oakland, to demand he be fired from the Detroit Police Department. “[…] he now serves as a co-lead of the department’s Committee on Race and Equality – a move that many participating in the action say was disrespectful to Aiyana’s family and residents of the city of Detroit,” the BYP100 said in a statement on its website.

Protesters in Detroit chained themselves to chained DPD’s 3rd precinct.

The same protest action was repeated in Chicago, where some arrests have been reported.

Protests in Chicago continued despite a police warning, with people demanding, “freedom now.”

In Washington, DC, protesters blocked the legislative office of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and nearby streets, forcing it to cancel its operation for the day.

FOP executive director Jim Pasco said the police union “work will continue from other locations,” on Wednesday.

“The FOP acts like a college fraternity and is responsible for maintaining the harmful, lethal, unethical, and unaccountable culture of policing while the families and communities impacted when officers brutalize civilians are left to mourn with little, if any, semblance of justice,” BYP 100 spokeswoman Clarise McCants said, calling the FOP “the most dangerous fraternity in America” that needs “to be stopped.” After 12 hours of the FOP occupation, protesters showed no signs of letting up.

In New York City, members of the BYP 100 and Million Hoodies staged a sit-in at the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s (PBA) headquarters.

“We are here today, to demand three things: disband the PBA, fire Officer (Wayne) Isaacs, defund the police, and fund black futures,” a demonstrator chanted.

They say money being spent on police should be invested in developing affordable housing, education and mental health resources in black communities.

“These things have been proven to increase the safety of our communities,” protesters said. “It has never been proven that the cops keep communities safe.”

Calls to defund the police were also heard in Oakland, where protesters chained themselves to the doors of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association offices.

The Black Youth Project 100, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, and Black Lives Matter occupied police union offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City Wednesday morning, as part of a new #FreedomNow campaign against police violence. The groups’ foremost demands are police accountability and a greater push to defund law enforcement.
Activists in the nation’s capital blocked off an entrance to the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). According to the BYP 100 website, members of its DC chapter and BLM DC are there to demand that cops stop paying dues to the union.
“The FOP acts like a college fraternity and is responsible for maintaining the harmful, lethal, unethical, and unaccountable culture of policing while the families and communities impacted when officers brutalize civilians are left to mourn with little, if any, semblance of justice,” BYP 100 spokeswoman Clarise McCants said. “Just like college frats that further rape culture by closing ranks to protect members who are sexual assailants, the FOP has proven that their primary commitment is to protect the worst of their members behind the ‘Blue Wall of Silence’ – even in the most heinous of circumstances. The FOP is the most dangerous fraternity in America and they need to be stopped.”

Meanwhile, the New York City chapters of BYP 100 and Million Hoodies are staging a sit-in at the Patrolmen Benevolent Association’s (PBA) headquarters.
“We are here today, to demand three things: disband the PBA, fire Officer (Wayne) Isaacs, defund the police, and fund black futures,” a demonstrator chanted. According to protesters, money would be better spent on affordable housing, improved education, and mental health resources in black communities. “These things have been proven to increase the safety of our communities,” a second protester said. “It has never been proven that the cops keep communities safe.”

Isaacs was recently stripped of his gun and badge, for fatally shooting an unarmed black driver on July 4. Video shows Delrawn Small walking up to Isaac’s car, after the off-duty, plainclothes officer reportedly cut him off. Isaacs fires his gun as Small approaches. But the officer claimed he fired his weapon because Small punched him several times and opened Isaacs’ door.
The officer is now on desk duty.
“The police are trying to manipulate the conversation. They are trying to manipulate all of us into believing that they are at risk. They are not at risk. Police officers are the threat,” BYP 100’s New York City chairperson Rahel Mekdim Teka, wrote on the organization’s website. “Police do not keep us safe. Police do not protect us. They are the danger that keeps Black people unsafe. We [must] divest from institutions that do not value us and instead invest in Black communities.”
Activists are targeting unions because the organizations wield extreme influence in law enforcement agencies and courts. Groups like the PBA and FOP negotiate powerful protections for cops accused of misconduct or brutality. In D.C., for example, members placed on leave for killing someone must receive monetary compensation, and they’re allowed a break before they’re interrogated by investigators. Officers are also given access to information about the cases against them, a privilege that civilians aren’t afforded and one that makes it easier for cops to defend themselves.
In the rare cases when officers are fired for excessive force or misconduct, police unions also fight to get them reinstated via backdoor appeals. Union representatives work with arbitrators, who are supposed to be independent mediators but have a history of siding with police, to get terminated officers reinstated with back pay.
Unions also wage campaigns against civilians who accuse cops of wrongdoing. When Eric Garner was killed using an illegal chokehold in 2014, PBA leader Patrick Lynch smeared the man who filmed the police encounter while declaring Garner’s killer, Daniel Pantaleo, an “Eagle Scout.”
“What’s also been lost is the character of police officer Daniel Pantaleo,” Lynch said. “What’s not being told is what kind of man and what kind of person and what kind of professional he is. He is a resident of this great city. He lives on Staten Island. He lives in those neighborhoods. He’s college educated, here in this city. He’s a mature, mature police officer who’s motivated by serving the community.”