• BLMLouisville/SUS

Police Accountability for Jarrus Ransom

Updated: May 10, 2019

December 9, 2018. LMPD officers pulled Jarrus Ransom from his car and beat him brutally in broad daylight while onlookers shouted in protest. The officers didn’t like his window tint.

He has not been charged with any violent crime and he was released from police custody the same day he was beaten and arrested. He was and is not considered to be a threat.

Warning - traumatic content

There is an unrelenting pattern of abuse throughout the U.S.’s police departments, and LMPD is no exception. During a moment like this, when specific instances of abuse and brutality are part of the public conversation, a department may be on its toes, but it never really stops. For every incident that captures public attention, there are thousands of unacknowledged abuses representative of a pattern designed into our policing system, and our jails and prisons.

History suggests a pattern around police brutality. Public awareness creates positive change in policing behavior that lasts for a while, but only a while. In six months or a year, the police are right back to rolling through poor Black neighborhoods like wartime Fallujah with much weaker rules of engagement. The predators and bullies in blue go back to doing what they do, knowing the system covers for them.

This pattern recurs because the change was not real. It was not structural. It was ice cream socials and youth events and peace walks and $50 Kroger gift cards and temporary, fleeting efforts to behave better or not get caught doing otherwise. It’s past time for a structural change.

The Movement for Black Lives calls for the abolishment of police, which some initially find confusing. This means we work for public safety to be handled so differently from what we know now, we might not even recognize it. It’s a community-based, intentional way of intervening in violence rather than using violence to beget more violence, which is how our system is designed now.

We can only move in a better direction in small steps. Every single step is worth the fight required because even a small change can have a big impact on people's’ lives in our most vulnerable communities.

We want police accountability through real record-keeping and transparency. We demand a citizen review board with real power to investigate and impact policy and personnel. We can see this at work in Chicago. Communities must have the right to demand the removal of police officers known to them to be racist, violent, or inappropriate with children. We want first responders with mental health qualifications, people with actual skills for working with frightened or unstable people in distress. We want police officers completely out of schools; we don’t need tasers, guns or predators near our children. Cash bail is an obscenity and must end.

At this point, we don’t even know just how many “use of force” incidents there are in Louisville, much less Kentucky. Only the most egregious cases are publicized. The use of force record of every LMPD officer should be a matter of public record and comprehensive data should be made available to an independent, citizen supervised group. (Have a look at what is happening in New Jersey. If the city and state don’t act, then independent investigative journalists need to take this on--now!)

The responses to all these needs must become part of local law. LMPD policies, concessions, and agreements come and go without notice or meaningful community input. This is unacceptable and must end.

LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell has said that Chief Steve Conrad initiated a Professional Standards Unit investigation after review of the beating of Jarrus Ransom via the officer bodycam footage. “This step by Chief Conrad is to see if any departmental policies have been violated.”

We do not expect justice or relief. We have noticed that when LMPD investigates itself, it does not seem to have the vision or the tools to identify wrongdoing. The fact that LMPD is incapable of investigating its own wrongdoing is not unusual: the fact they insist on doing so and the city refuses to create a meaningful alternative is a shame.

What do BLM-Louisville and SUS ask you to do? Organize. Get with us, get with any of the groups doing work on police accountability.

Black Lives Matter Louisville

Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression [KAARPR]

ACLU of Kentucky

Kentucky Smart on Crime

Parents for Social Justice

Get wherever you fit or come on out anyway. Ask any group or church you are already part of to get or stay involved.

LMPD is not going to get better on its own. No justice, no peace.


Stand Up Sunday

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