DARE blasts lack of access and accountability in Providence police chief selection

“Mayor Smiley, you promised community. We are concerned Providence community members because we will not be given an opportunity to speak directly with police chief candidate during the forum. We’re speaking now. Under the last Providence Police Chief we witnessed countless assaults by Providence Police on our families and neighbors…”

Rhode Island News: DARE blasts lack of access and accountability in Providence police chief selection

February 9, 2023, 4:39 pm

By Steve Ahlquist

Ahead of Mayor Brett Smiley‘s forum featuring the three candidates for Providence’s next chief of the Providence Police Department, members and allies of Direct Action for Rights and Equality held a press conference outside to address the lack of true public input and accountability in the process.

See: The Providence Police Chief Community Forum

Tunji Yerima, a organizer with DARE and DARE’s Behind the Walls Committee read the following statement. You can watch it in the following video and read a transcript below.

DARE statement on PVDs next police chief

Mayor Smiley and Providence Community,

“We are concerned Providence community members. Because we will not be given an opportunity to speak directly with police chief candidates during the forum, we’re speaking now.

“Under the last Providence Police Chief, we witnessed countless assaults by Providence police on our families and neighbors. Some survivors are standing here with us today. Many of these incidents made local and national news, including 

“Despite all of these incidents being caught on camera, not one of these officers was charged or fired!

“This disrespect and abuse is the norm, not the exception! Most incidents never make it into mainstream news. Daily life includes being profiled, slammed to the ground, violently grabbed, bruised, verbally assaulted, harassed in and around our homes, searched without warrants. If you know, you know!

Tunji Yerima

“Body cams aren’t cutting it. They do not prevent police violence, because no matter how many incidents surface, police continue to terrorize our communities with zero consequences. We’re not interested in continuing to watch, or feeding into the media’s voyeurism.

“We don’t want cops who are better trained to hunt us, either. We stand in solidarity with our family in Atlanta, who are resisting the construction of Cop City, a training ground that includes a school and playground for cops to practice urban warfare. As organizers in Atlanta reminded us recently, the officer who killed ayshard Brooks down in Atlanta had over 2000 hours of training.

We want cops out of our schools and our neighborhoods and we want real accountability. Rhode Island’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights prevents officers from being suspended more than 2 days without pay unless they have a Board of Rights hearing. Who conducts the hearings?? Three active or retired police officers, with one picked by the officer under investigation. Under LEOBOR, the officers who bring so much harm to us have more rights than the defendants that they themselves interrogate for alleged crimes. Why??

“As this transition takes place, we call on you, Mayor Smiley, to support the repeal of LEOBOR; to remove cops from our schools; and to increase funding for afterschool and youth programs; housing; and employment. This is what real violence prevention and community safety look like.”