Saturday, September 12, 2009

Message from NAACP National President Ben Jealous on the shooting death of Mark Anthony Barmore


Police shot and killed Mark Anthony Barmore, a 23-year-old black man, in a church day care center a few weeks ago in Rockford, Illinois. We have also learned that one officer involved in this killing has been accused of several other questionable police shootings. As you can imagine, tension is running high in the Rockford community and we are deeply concerned.

I thought you should know what the NAACP is doing about it.

Today I will be leading a delegation of NAACP leaders and staff to launch the NAACP's investigation of this police killing and the police department itself.

In Rockford today, we will address a rally of community leaders and report on NAACP's engagement with the Department of Justice to thoroughly investigate this awful tragedy.

We are also working with Congress to require the establishment of national standards for use of force, and training in use of force, for law enforcement officers. Currently, there are as many use-of-force policies as there are law enforcement agencies in our Nation today, and there are as many interpretations of those policies as there are law enforcement officers. This lack of uniformity is one of the core reasons behind the tragedy in Rockford and in too many other instances across the Nation.

We thank the Department of Justice for taking this case seriously through the outreach efforts its Community Relations Service. But to help re-establish trust in the community and to ensure that the Rockford police department is operating with integrity, we need a federal investigation into this case. Please, sign our petition urging the Department of Justice to conduct a full investigation of this shooting and the ongoing use of force by the Rockford police department.

So what actually happened in Rockford? Eyewitnesses say that outside a church day care center, Mr. Barmore encountered two police officers who apparently were looking for him on an allegation of domestic violence. He ran inside the church, and the officers followed him, guns drawn, without a warrant. After Mr. Barmore entered a small boiler room, the police demanded he come out. He slowly exited the room with his hands up. Then, witnesses say, police shot him -- in front of small children in the day care center.

While he lay face down, witnesses say, police shot him three more times in the back! Additionally, officers have been using intimidation tactics against witnesses, such as sitting outside their homes and slowly driving by their homes.

We all must act to stop this kind of police abuse, so I need your help now.

Please, sign the petition and help us promote smart and safe law enforcement policies. I will be keeping you updated on the killing in Rockford and our efforts to investigate it - and prevent future tragedies.


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