Rally for Justice Coalition demands 3 provisions of accountability in new PPD contract

Columnist and commentator Solomon Jones leads a rally at Philadelphia police headquarters to call for action against police officers who posted racist comments on Facebook. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Columnist and commentator Solomon Jones leads a rally at Philadelphia police headquarters to call for action against police officers who posted racist comments on Facebook. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

It’s happened again. A white police officer in Texas has shot and killed a black person in their own home.

In a case reminiscent of Amber Guyger, the former Dallas cop convicted of killing 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean at home, a white police officer in Fort Worth has shot and killed a black woman in her own home.

Atatiana Jefferson, a 28 year-old pre-med graduate, was killed around 2:30 a.m. Saturday after a neighbor called a non-emergency police number to report that Jefferson’s front door was open.

Officers arrived and parked near the residence, and that’s when things went south.

Police released edited body cam footage that shows the lights on and the door open when officers arrive at the house. The officers walk around the home holding a flashlight and at some point, one of them quickly approaches a window with his weapon drawn and yells, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” and fires through the window.

He does not identify himself as a police officer before firing.

The Fort Worth police said the officer “perceived a threat.” But in my view, the only threat in this situation was a cop too anxious to pull the trigger. And the fact that this keeps happening to black folks in their own homes is a problem.

It’s the reason the Rally For Justice Coalition stood up against police racism and brutality in Philadelphia. It’s the reason over 100 people went to City Hall to protest on Friday. It’s the reason the coalition is demanding accountability when police officers abuse our people.

That coalition, formed in the wake of the police Facebook scandal in which 328 Philadelphia police officers posted racist or bigoted remarks online, consists of the NAACP, the Nation Action Network, POWER, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, and the Guardian Civic League among others.

I worked with leaders across the city to bring together that coalition because we can no longer pretend it’s a coincidence that unarmed black folks are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts. We came together because we can not ignore the fact that the only threat some police officers need to see is blackness.

African Americans are being shot in our homes, profiled on our property, searched during car stops, and our children are being handcuffed in schools. Standing against this behavior is not a stand against good policing. Standing against this behavior is about our very survival.

In Philadelphia that means putting these three provisions in the new police contract: If officers are sued for abusing us, they must pay part of the settlement from their own pockets. If officers see their colleagues abusing us, they must attempt to stop the abuse or face discipline. If new recruits want to be police officers in Philadelphia, they must live in the city.

These demands — developed at a community forum held by the Rally For Justice Coalition — are about stopping police misconduct before it happens. Only accountability can stop rogue police officers from killing us. Putting a name on a hashtag is just not enough anymore.

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