Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mutual Respect Needed to Improve Interactions with Police, Panelists Say; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mutual Respect Needed to Improve Interactions with Police, Panelists Say; FERGUSON POLICE SHOOTING

Article excerpt

NORMANDY * Three weeks after Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, about 150 people gathered at a church to talk about how to improve interactions between African-American men and police.

Among the outrage and outcry following Brown's death, Julian Johnson, an associate pastor at Bethesda Temple Church, wanted to find solutions. The panel on Saturday included Berkeley Police Chief Frank McCall, National Bar Association President Pam Meanes and civil rights activist Alveda King, the niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Johnson, a black man and father of two sons, said he has been racially profiled by police, and so have many of the men in his church.

"People need to know their rights," Johnson said. "Our goal is to educate and equip them with valuable information."

And that information should be kept close at hand, Meanes said. Her organization of predominantly African-American lawyers and judges is seeking records of people killed by police, racially profiled, wrongfully arrested or hurt in custody in 25 cities, including St. Louis. The group said it will begin seeking the documents Monday and will release the information it receives to the public. The group lists St. Louis among cities that "have been identified as having an alleged history of police misconduct and brutality cases."

On Saturday, Meanes and others offered "Know Your Rights" brochures with information that aims to keep interactions with police from getting violent. Another group, the Ethics Project, passed out business card-size instructions with a police department internal affairs number to report misconduct.

Meanes also offered scripts.

"Officer, I mean no disrespect, but I know my rights," Meanes suggested saying when disagreeing with authorities.

Those rights include recording a police officer, and not being forced to give up the recording without a warrant, she said. She urged people to always film the interaction, if possible. Always be respectful, stay calm and keep hands where they can be seen because "there is a different standard for us," she said. …

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