[Personal note: recently, I read a couple of reporters disparaging remarks about printing information from press releases that weren’t vetted. I often print un-vetted press releases, because I’m aware that what passes for “vetting” by the majority of mainstream reporters is collecting comments that only appear to shed light on a subject, when in truth, many of the collected comments have no basis in fact, quite often within the reporter’s and editor’s knowledge. I’m also quite aware that the more legitimate an NGO is, the more likely it is that their press releases will be ignored by the mainstream media. For that reason, I will continue to print press releases that have been ignored by the AP, Reuters, New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, USA Today, etc.]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Bar Association
January 26, 2015
THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS BALTIMORE, MARYLAND POLICE CHIEF FOR REQUESTING A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF HIS TROUBLED POLICE DEPARTMENT
THE NBA DEMANDS THE CITY OF BALTIMORE REMOVE GAG CLAUSES FROM SETTLEMENTS THAT PREVENT VICTIMS OF POLICE BRUTALITY FROM DISCLOSING DETAILS TO THE PUBLIC
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Bar Association’s (NBA) ongoing pursuit of transparency and accountability in law enforcement agencies in every state, the NBA highlights incidents involving excessive use of force at the hands of police, or state and local policies that prevent these incidents from becoming public.
This week, the NBA highlights the City of Baltimore, which has paid $5.7 million dollars in 102 court judgments and settlements concerning allegations of police misconduct since 2011.
In 2014, The Baltimore Sun completed a six-month investigation titled, “Undue Force”. During the newspaper’s investigation, it revealed troubling findings and some cases included: brutal abuse against an 87 year old woman who won $95,000, a pregnant woman who won $125,000, and an innocent man who won $200,000.
Several days after the story was released, it was made public that Anthony Batts, Baltimore Police Commissioner, requested a review from the Department of Justice.
However, the residents of Baltimore are still in need of transparency within the Baltimore Police Department. Victims of police brutality who have settled their claims are prohibited from discussing any details of their abuse. Accordingly, Baltimore taxpayers will never know the circumstances which forced city officials to utilize their tax dollars to redress violence committed by its public servants.
“The city’s settlement agreements contain a clause that prohibits injured residents from making any public statement-or talking to news media – about the incidents. And when settlements are placed on the agenda at public meetings involving the mayor and other top officials, the cases are described using excerpts from police reports, with allegations of brutality routinely omitted,” reports The Baltimore Sun.
“[S]ome lawmakers said Maryland should consider a law banning nondisparagement clauses in settlements for police misconduct,” reports The Baltimore Sun. “If settlements are paid with public money, there shouldn’t be a confidentiality clause,” Maryland Delegate Curt Anderson told the Baltimore Sun in a December 2014 interview.
The National Bar Association appreciates Baltimore’s recent steps at fairness and accountability within law enforcement, and demands further transparency on every level by removing gag clauses on citizens who have suffered abuse.
“The National Bar is adamant about its desire for transformative justice,”stated Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association. “While we are sadden by the growing number of police brutality cases, we are promoting peace on every street corner in the United States and around the world.”
The only way to foster systemic change is to organize, educate, and mobilize. The NBA encourages everyone to continue to fight against the injustice in Baltimore, Maryland, and throughout the United States by banning together and fighting for: 1) appointment of independent prosecutors and investigators in police involved shooting; 2) enactment of local and state laws requiring monthly diversity bad de-escalation of force training and stricter mental health testing; and 3) enactment of federal laws related to body and desk cameras, definition and training related to elevation and excessive force and making it a felony for another to watch and not another police officer for engaging in police brutality.
“Transparency is necessary for law enforcement agencies to begin actively working with communities for peaceful dialogue, trust and respect of citizens’rights,” stated President Meanes.