Thursday, December 24, 2009

Illinois State Police exhonerate Officers in the killing of Mark Barmore - NAACP Calls for DOJ Investigation

The following statement was released yesterday by the NAACP in the case of Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed African American man fatally shot by two white Rockford, IL police officers in a church day care center.

“The NAACP is shocked and outraged by the Illinois State Police finding that the Rockford Police acted properly in shooting and killing Mark Barmore, who was unarmed” said Norma Joseph, President of the Rockford Branch NAACP.

The Rockford, Illinois branch of NAACP, along with community leaders, faith leaders and concerned citizens in the State of Illinois, have formed a coalition which is calling for an independent investigation by the US Department of Justice through the US Attorney General for the Northern District of Illinois into the incident. The community-based coalition has also called for the establishment of a citizen’s police review board with subpoena and disciplinary power.

“We are seeking accountability for the law enforcement officer’s actions,” explained Attorney Don Jackson, President of the Illinois State NAACP. “In only five years of service, one of the officers has been involved in four shootings, two of which resulted in fatalities.”

“It is a sad day in this country when two police officers with guns drawn can charge into a church day care center, terrorize children and staff and fatally shoot an unarmed man in the back with impunity,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President and CEO.

The NAACP has requested the US Department of Justice to launch a full “pattern and practice” investigation into the Rockford police department in addition to criminal and civil rights investigations into the actions of the police officers. The Rockford police force has experienced a rash of police shootings in the past 10 years. The Coalition is also asking the City of Rockford to provide psychiatric counseling to the pre-school children and adult daycare workers who witnessed the shooting, many of whom are already exhibiting signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

“The lack of supervision by Rockford of its officers threatens the safety of all Rockford residents and mars the integrity of its police department,” stated Jealous. “Lack of accountability will tear the fabric of trust between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve, making it more difficult to solve or prevent crimes. In some cities where police misconduct is prevalent, the unsolved homicide rates are as high as 80 percent. Without trust, witnesses will not come forward and crimes will remain unsolved,” Jealous concluded.

The NAACP has called for Congress to enact legislation to mandate national standards for training and use of force for all law enforcement.

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