“This thing just stinks to high heaven, and the police know it,” said Jason Upthegrove, president of the Lima chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “We’re not asking for answers anymore. We’re demanding them.”
Some facts are known. A SWAT team arrived at Ms. Wilson’s rented house in the Southside neighborhood early in the evening of Jan. 4 to arrest her companion, Anthony Terry, on suspicion of drug dealing, said Greg Garlock, Lima’s police chief. Officers bashed in the front door and entered with guns drawn, said neighbors who saw the raid.
Moments later, the police opened fire, killing Ms. Wilson, 26, and wounding her 14-month-old son, Sincere, Chief Garlock said. One officer involved in the raid, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a 31-year veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Beyond these scant certainties, there is mostly rumor and rage. The police refuse to give any account of the raid, pending an investigation by the Ohio attorney general.
Black people in Lima, from the poorest citizens to religious and business leaders, complain that rogue police officers regularly stop them without cause, point guns in their faces, curse them and physically abuse them. They say the shooting of Ms. Wilson is only the latest example of a long-running pattern of a few white police officers treating African-Americans as people to be feared.
“There is an evil in this town,” said C. M. Manley, 68, pastor of New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. “The police harass me. They harass my family. But they know that if something happens to me, people will burn down this town.”
Internal investigations have uncovered no evidence of police misconduct, Chief Garlock said. Still, local officials recognize that the perception of systemic racism has opened a wide chasm.
“The situation is very tense,” Mayor David J. Berger said. “Serious threats have been made. People are starting to carry weapons to protect themselves.”
Surrounded by farm country known for its German Catholic roots and conservative politics, Lima is the only city in the immediate area with a significant African-American population. Black families, including Mr. Manley’s, came to Lima in the 1940s and ’50s for jobs at what is now the Husky Energy Lima Refinery and other factories along the city’s southern border. Blacks make up 27 percent of the city’s 38,000 people, Mr. Berger said.
Many blacks still live downwind from the refinery. Many whites on the police force commute from nearby farm towns, where a black face is about as common as a twisty road. Of Lima’s 77 police officers, two are African-American.
“If I have any frustration when I retire, it’ll be that I wasn’t able to bring more racial balance to the police force,” said Chief Garlock, who joined the force in 1971 and has been chief for 11 years." [Source]
Indeed this young lady's life seemed to be a sad and tragic one. I have seen many Tarika Wilsons here in Philly. But she did not deserve to die this way.
And meanwhile in New York.
"Prosecutors are dropping charges against 17-year-old Enrique Del Rosario related to assaulting a police officer after video contradicted their claims.
The incident took place at Brooklyn’s Puerto Rican Day parade on June 8. Dennis Flores, founder of the neighborhood police watchdog group El Grito De Sunset Park said police descended on the revelers in the evening, something that’s become expected. “We’ve been documenting this every year,” Flores told ThinkProgress. “The neighborhood gets flooded with police officers. Young kids are marching, waving flags, and cops are corraling them, pushing them around, like it’s a nuisance to have them out celebrating their culture.”
Flores’ group had several activists taping the police that day, a tactic that activists across the country have found useful for monitoring police. So they were able to capture Rosario’s arrest from multiple angles, a fact that would be crucial for proving his innocence. Photos and recordings can often mean the difference between conviction and exoneration.
Once the attack started, Flores said, police began pushing people back and macing them to keep onlookers and cameras from seeing what was going on. Flores said that the injury police blamed Rosario for was caused by another cop. “This officer swung his nightstick and missed, hit another police officer across the head,” Flores said.
grand jury decided not to prosecute Rosario for assaulting a cop in September, but he continued to face charges for resisting arrest and larceny until the District Attorney’s office offered to drop all charges as long as he stays clear of the law for six months.
The charges proved to be an economic burden to Rosario’s family, even though they were dropped. Rosario and his mother Wendy Tabarez had to attend eight court dates since he was beaten and arrested, costing wages and time off lost. For working people, an arrest can come at a high price, even if they are eventually found innocent.
Rosario’s camera was never recovered, and footage from NYPD police videographers seems to have disappeared, arousing Flores’ suspicion. “It’s not like his camera was just left on the street. They took it, and it never showed up in evidence.” Both Flores and Heinegg have tried to obtain NYPD footage of the events, but have been told it can’t be located." [Source]
Look, police officers have a tough job. (One lost his life today here on the mean streets of Philly. RIP.) But at some point political leaders and people with influence in underserved communities are going to have to step up and acknowledge that we have a problem. And, more importantly, they are going to have to do something about it.
We cannot allow anymore Ferguson type situations to fester in small cities like Lima, Ohio, or in large cities like New York.