BROOKLYN, April 9 2015--James Lane, the Green Party candidate for Congress in the 11th CD, repeated his call today for the appointment of an independent prosecutor in cases of police violence and to require police to be equipped with body cameras that cannot be deactivated at the officer's sole discretion.
Lane's campaign hosted a community forum in the Staten Island neighborhood of Port Richmond last night where over 40 attendees discussed their ongoing concerns with racism, police brutality, and failure to aid those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The South Carolina killing immediately came up in discussion.
A resident was able to videotape the North Charleston police officer, Michael Slager, firing eight bullets into Walter Scott, a fleeing unarmed man who had been pulled over for a traffic violation. Within days of the killing, the international uproar resulted in the officer being indicted for murder. Local officials also fired the officer and ordered that all local officers where body cameras in the future.
Lane noted however that a video of Eric Garner being killed failed to prompt District Attorney Donovan to obtain an indictment. Lane, who ran for Public Advocate in 2013, said he supported the push for the transcript of the Grand Jury proceedings to be released so that the public could review what type of case Donovan presented after delaying for more than four months. The Public Advocate's office is appealing the recent decision by a Supreme Court judge to block release of the transcripts.
"Mr. Donovan should come out in favor of public transparency and accountability and support the release of the Grand Jury Proceedings. He should show that he has nothing to hide," added Lane.
In Albany last week. a mentally disturbed man, Donald Ivey walking down the street in Arbor Hill was killed by the police after they shocked him with a Taser.
"The public shouldn't have to depend on the courage and happenstance of a bystander being willing to videotape the actions of police officers. The police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown has pushed the public to hold officers more accountable, but the journey is far from complete. Despite all the protests in recent months, Albany lawmakers failed to take action in the recent budget agreement to enact needed criminal justice reforms," noted Lane.
As the Albany Times Union editorialized today in response to the rash of civilian killings by the police: "We need a look at police recruiting, exploring issues ranging from diversity to mental fitness. We need a look at whether training — or lack of it — is a factor, not just at the academy but on the job. We need a look at how officers are equipped, and whether stun weapons, however effective they are, are as much a liability as chokeholds have been found to be. And we must examine practices in handling police encounters with people who are not criminals, but are distraught or mentally ill. This needs to be a broad look at law enforcement."
"Enough is enough. We have to put an end to the killings of civilians by police officers. How many more deaths do we need before our elected officials take action? Our criminal justice system is not working," said Lane.