Advocacy groups present rules for survival when stopped by police

Luz Green knew a man who was killed by the police during a traffic stop. Though it took place in the late ‘90s in Los Angeles, Greene is still very affected.

She has a son, Brandon Bernier, 7, who she hopes will never have to deal with such a situation. But just in case, she took him to Temple University’s Ritter Hall on Saturday to learn some things that could save his life.

The program was called 10 Rules of Survival When Stopped by the Police and it was sponsored by the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Black Male Development Symposium, Raising Him Alone and the Institute for the Development of African-American Youth, Inc.

The sponsors joined to address a prevalent problem that particularly affects black males, said Dr. Doreen Loury, executive director of the Black Male Development Symposium and a professor at Arcadia University.

“It’s not a game anymore,” she said. “They’re dying. They’re getting killed.”

Mark Ensley, director of special programs for IDAAY, has seen that young black men have had little to no guidance when dealing with authority figures. So they end up in the back of a police car because of a bad attitude, he said.

Joel Austin, president and CEO of Daddy UniverseCity, led the half of the workshop geared toward parents. He asked them why they thought young black males were stopped by the police. Neighborhood location, racial profiling and known associations were among the answers, but Austin also suggested parents had a role. The attitude they have toward the police will be echoed by their children, he said.

“If the children see the way you react, they’ll do the exact same thing,” he said. “You say you dislike the police, they’ll say they do, too.”

More than 60 young men crammed into the classroom for the other half of the talk geared toward youth. It was lead by Matt Stevens, co-founder of the Raising Him Alone Campaign.

“Everything that happens on the streets has an action and a reaction,” Stevens told the group.

Aaron Starr, 17, has learned this lesson well.

He was with a friend who was carrying marijuana, and when they were stopped by a police, he ran. Once he was caught, he was hit on his back, which caused his chin to slam the ground. At that point, he tried not to further provoke the officers, he said.

The discussion made him feel encouraged to move forward and avoid negative situations.

“I’ll get a job. Support my family and me,” he said. “Live life.”

The speakers stressed the importance of speaking politely and being respectful of officers.

But Michael McMillan, 19, who had a run-in with an officer who choked him said that the police also need to be respectful of people if they want respect. Though, he said, the forum helped him learn a little more about how to speak to police.


The 10 Rules of Survival When Stopped by the Police:

Be polite and respectful. It is important to make police feel that they are not in a threatening environment.
Stay calm and remain in control. You may be scared, but it is important for you to relax. Watch your words, body language and emotions.
Do not, under any circumstances, get into an argument with the police.
Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law.
Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times. This means you keep your hands out of your pockets and avoid any hand motions or gestures that may be viewed as aggressive.
Avoid physical contact with the police. Do not brush against the police in any manner.
Do not run from the police even if you are afraid.
Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest.
Do not make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with your parents, guardian, a lawyer or a public defender.
Remember that your goal is to get home safely. Use the above rules to help you navigate a police stop. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal complaint with your local police jurisdiction.

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