Troy community marches against police brutality

Pat Gareau, Creative Editor

Approximately 100 people took to the streets of Troy on Feb. 4 for a march against police brutality. The march was sparked by an incident at a nightclub in Troy, Kokopellis, but is fueled by long standing grievances.

Organized by Reverend Willie Bacote and the African American Pastoral Alliance, the march aimed to shed light on tactics used by Troy Police, especially against minority communities.

“We are taking a stand and sending a very clear message that we have had enough of this,” said Bacote. “We aren’t anything except peaceful people who want to see change.”

The protesters walked a half mile from Bethel Baptist Church on Fifth Ave. in Troy, passed the police station and continued to Christ Church United Methodist on State St., where a public meeting was held by the City Council Public Safety Committee.

As they marched, Reverend Willie was on a bullhorn voicing their cause.

“Join us as we go to have a conversation that should have been had a long time ago,”said Bacote.

Participants in the march held signs against violence and police brutality. The most common sign said “Our communities reject violence” and featured a picture of an officer in riot gear with a nightstick. Participants chanted and sang at times.

Those in the march were joined by a few hundred more citizens at Christ Church for the public safety meeting. A lineup of 12 speakers talked about police brutality and voiced the concern of the community.

The fight at Kokopellis on Jan. 25 resulted in seven people charged of a crime and six officers being treated at the hospital. Owners at Kokopellis have vocally blamed the police for starting the fight after an original report stated otherwise.

The original police report describes police arriving into a chaotic environment with individuals fighting. A surveillance video, however, indicated otherwise.

Upset citizens in Troy called for more regular meetings of the public safety committee and the police review board. Citizens want an investigation into the fight at Kokopellis and some demanded suspensions of officers seen in the video with batons. Some also want all charges dropped for those arrested in the fight.

Our country has the highest incarceration rate in the world. African-Americans are particularly impacted by the high rate of imprisonment with a rate of 2,207 in jail per 100,000 people in 2010. That is about six times the rate of white Americans, with only 380 per 100,000 incarcerated.

Troy’s police chief, John Tedesco, has said that the officers used necessary force at Kokopellis and Mayor Lou Rosamilia has stood behind him

Citizens of Troy are looking for the truth of what happened that night and voicing concern that there is a continuing problem of police brutality.

Troy’s City Council has recommended an independent investigation. On Tuesday, Feb. 11 there will be a second public safety hearing where officers involved in the fight will speak.

 

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