About 25 people gathered at a Black Lives Matter town hall meeting Tuesday in southwest Fresno to discuss the need for police officers to be held accountable for their actions.
The Rev. Floyd Harris organized the event at the New Light for New Life church. “We have a serious problem in America,” he told a group of about two dozen people. “This is 2016. I’m tired of seeing us bury our children.”
A woman who identified herself as the mother of the 16-year-old who was arrested for allegedly jaywalking near Hoover High School spoke about her son, telling the group he had never been in trouble with the law before the incident. She said her son’s auditory processing disability may have hindered his capacity to process what the officer was telling him at the intersection.
The woman learned about her son’s arrest from a citizen who called to tell her, “ ‘They’re slamming your son on the concrete.’ He’s a big kid. He looks older than he is,” she said. “He’s still a humble kid.”
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She also spoke about the need for officers to be trained in de-escalating situations. The woman said although her son wasn’t mature enough to de-escalate the confrontation, she expected the officer to be.
“I expected my son to act like a 16-year-old,” she said. “But I expected an officer of the law to act like a fully matured, developed man.”
She said police training also needs to include extra training on how to work with youth. “He had a chance to establish a bond with my son that day,” she said. “He chose not to do that.”
She said the comments her family has received about the video have hurt her, but she is grateful for another teen who recorded the video because the attention he drew may have saved her son’s life. “I want to see police knowing when to stop,” she said.
Justice Medina, activist and organizer for the protest that shut down several roads in Fresno on July 9, spoke briefly at the event, telling the group he was ready to see change. “I’m tired of just talking,” he said. “I’m tired of countless meetings going on with the same thing. They don’t meet us with ‘how can we solve this issue.’ They meet us with AR-15s.”