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Issue: #187
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Richmond Progressive Alliance   

Recap of Council Action on Police Commission Reforms
Here We Go Again? An Open Letter from Mike to Tom
In case you've not seen these yet...

Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
1021 Macdonald,


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Council Acts to Improve Accountability   
Three Police Commission Items Move Forward

One week ago, the Richmond City Council acted to strengthen the Police Commission by moving to adopt changes proposed by the Commission itself, as well as 2 items introduced by Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez, both co-sponsored by Councilmembers Beckles and McLaughlin. 

Item J 1: First reading of ordinance to amend Richmond Municipal Code related to Police Commission, passed with a 5-1-1 vote with Bates abstaining & Pimple voting No.

Item K 2: Directed staff to initiate a Police Commission Investigation into the shooting death of Pedie Perez (as soon as the Police Commission Investigative Officer position is filled).    Passed with Yes votes from Beckles, Martinez, McLaughlin, and Jael Myrick, with Bates again abstaining and Butt and Pimple voting No.

Item K 3: Directed staff to change language in the ordinance so that any police-involved fatality or serious injury will be automatically investigated by the Citizens Police Review Commission, even if a complaint is not filed. Passed  4-3, with affirmatives from the co-sponsors and Myrick, with Bates, Butt & Pimple voting against it. This directive is the essential first step in getting this reform added to the ordinance. The change will require 2 readings once staff has drafted the necessary language before it becomes law.   

The RPA Steering Committee will be meeting to prepare a formal statement and plan outreach around these reforms. Initially, we are happy to say that:

"We have one of the best police forces in the state and now we'll have one of the best accountability standards and community oversight standards in the state, too.  We're moving very clearly in the right direction and that has required and will continue to require vision and a steady commitment to justice."

Mike Parker sends An Open Letter to Tom Butt 
On the Police Commission Issue:
Here We Go Again?

[The following letter was submitted by Mike Parker, in reply to recent emails by Tom Butt. --PB]


You seem to believe that an independent investigation of a police action that results in death or serious injury shows "distrust" or "bashing" of our police department. I think most Richmond residents support independent review of the police. It develops public support for the police and can provide information to reduce negative outcomes in the future. Do you oppose independent auditors examining the City's books? Does requiring such an audit mean that you distrust Bill Lindsay and City staff? Or do you think that money is more important than the loss of a human life?

It appears that whenever the Council does not see things your way, you decide it is time to declare war on the Richmond Progressive Alliance and pursue a bridge-burning, scorched earth campaign. You start your message with straight out untruths and arguable "facts" and build from there:

Here we go again. The vast majority of Richmond residents have no interest in an unprecedented, expensive and time-consuming expansion of the mission of the Richmond Police Commission to investigate incidents that have not even resulted in a complaint. But the Richmond Progressive Alliance believes that is now Richmond's top priority, along with reopening an investigation into the death of Pedie Perez. (Tom Butt E-Forum 2/5/16)

The RPA has never said anything that suggests that investigations of the police should be "Richmond's top priority." The RPA considers the policies of community policing, jobs, housing, and the environment all to be high priorities. It does believe that investigations of serious incidents are an important part of strengthening community confidence in our police. Nor should such investigations be assumed "expensive," as I will discuss later. 
*     *     *
You say that "All [councilmembers who supported the resolutions] averred that the Richmond Police Department is the best in the world before proceeding to smash it with visceral verbal attacks." There were NO verbal attacks of any kind on the Richmond Police Department --NONE. Nor was there even any criticism of the department. Here is ALL of what you give for evidence:

Click here for the full letter.
Editor's Note:
The next issue of the Activist will follow shortly.

And it will be "regular" in terms of length and range of contents.


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RPA Activist Info

is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.

Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the authors, unsigned text  the views of the editor, Patsy Byers, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to  RPAactivist@gmail.com or call  510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.