NAACP LOUISIANA STATE CONFERENCE ISSUES ADVISORY TO CITIZENS AND VISITORS AGAINST POLICE INTERACTIONS.
The NAACP Louisiana State Conference is issuing the following advisory as it relates to people of color and interactions with law enforcement throughout the state. Recent data shared before the Louisiana House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice highlighted details regarding officer involved killings. Between 2013-2017, 118 people were killed by law enforcement of which 53% were African-American. Louisiana ranks 9th in nation the nation for officer-involved killings and unfortunately over the past 5 years only 4 indictments and 2 convictions have occurred, of which the officers prosecuted were African-American. The NAACP has decided there are currently no measures of accountability or proper judicial recourse to prevent negative interactions and/or killings of people of color in the state by law enforcement.
Unfortunately, Louisiana’s Capitol city Baton Rouge has been the point of controversy for quite some time. During Hurricane Katrina several police forces from around the nation reported incidences of racial bias and profiling while partnered with the Baton Rouge Police Department. New Mexico went as far as to pull their resources from the area due to problems reported by their officers.
Current problems echo what New Mexico State Police said they saw thirteen years ago. When Louisiana police asked for help from other departments, 21 New Mexico State Police troopers were eventually sent to Baton Rouge.
The problems the officers saw immediately became evident.
“Baton Rouge police officers showed racial bias, conducted illegal searches and employed excessive force”, said some New Mexico state troopers who left Louisiana after only two days of working alongside the Baton Rouge cops.
State troopers from New Mexico and Michigan were pulled out of Baton Rouge just two days after arriving to help the local police in September 2005. Baton Rouge police officers “commented or implied” to New Mexico troopers that they had been directed to make things “as rough as possible” for the people who had arrived from New Orleans in order to discourage them from staying in Baton Rouge, according to New Mexico State Police Maj. Daniel Lopez.
“Officer King (BRPD) is a good officer but does seem to handle black people differently than he would a pretty Caucasian woman,” officer Gregory A. Hall (NM) wrote in his report. “Each time Officer King would make contact with a Caucasian person he would be friendly and pleasant. But when he spoke with a black person he was very loud, rude and demeaning.”
“Hall went on to describe the beating of a teenage black male by the police officers who “had no probable cause to stop, was illegally searched and had nothing in his possession that was illegal,” and described another officer’s comment later that night that he didn’t like “what the Captain is making us do.” The officer told Hall that he does it “the best I can and still sleep at night,” but that he really hated what the officer earlier that night “did with that kid.”
With the recent unilateral decision by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry not to pursue criminal charges of Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake in the shooting death of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling, Sr.; the release of the disturbing body cam footage and the subsequent termination of BRPD Officer Blane Salamoni has sparked more questions than answers.
NAACP State President Michael McClanahan felt compelled to offer this advisory in an attempt to prevent people of color from encountering a similar fate. “Currently state and local governments lack accountability measures to keep the citizens of and visitors to this great state from negative or potentially fatal police encounters. God forbids someone is killed by the police, there are no promises we can provide to your loved ones that justice will be served, and because of that, it is incumbent upon the Louisiana Conference of the NAACP to advise both citizens and visitors exercise extreme caution when encountering law enforcement and traverse this land with care.”