My name is Zach Miller from the Coalition for Citizen Police Review and I am here to ask one question: Who will police the police?
Over the past 4 years, I've been outraged by stories I've heard about police misconduct. The non-violent pedestrian who was committing no crime who was beaten to death by police, the motorists who committed no crimes who had guns pulled on them and their car searched, the people trying to observe and document the police who have been sent to jail for their mere act of observation, the attempt by the police to justify the purchase of Tasers, the purchase by the police of a tank-like armored vehicle, overly aggressive and dangerous crowd control tactics used by the police. These are just some of the stories from Champaign and Urbana, from North and South of University that I have heard over just the past 4 years. These are the stories that happen to have gotten out. But whenever I start to tell these stories, I start to hear from folks that there are HUNDREDS of incidents like these. Who among us doesn't know someone who has been the victim of police misconduct or abuse? But where are these stories documented? How can we convince the media and our government that this obvious problem exists?
Who will police the police? We will. Civilians must police the police. Champaign, Urbana, and Champaign County must create independent citizen police review boards which take complaints about police behavior, put them into the public record, investigate them, and make real change.
Over the past several years in our community, various organizations and activists from North and South of University have been working together to create citizen's police review boards. The Coalition for Citizen Police Review has signed on dozens of local organizations including the NAACP, the ACLU, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort, the Prairie Green Party, El Centro de Los Trabajadores, and many local churches and religious organizations.
This movement has been percolating for several years and now it is time to come together to make it boil. It is time to bring the unity we've shown today into our city governments to demand that Citizen's Police Review Boards must be created locally. They must be independent, accountable, responsive, and they must have real teeth.
The Coalition for Police Review will be meeting on Thursday, November 4th at 6:30pm at the Douglass Branch Library. I invite every person here to attend and help shape, guide, and drive forward the movement for a citizen's police review board. We also have petitions circulating in support of the police review board. Please show your support by signing this petition!
Thank you very much.