Coalition for Police Accountability to Hold March and Rally Today Calling for Statewide Participation as Counties Near Implementation of Controversial Bill

Rev. Marguerite Morris speaks at a police accountability rally in Annapolis.

A coalition of 20 organizations will march Monday, March 21st through Annapolis to the People’s Park to demand that the Anne Arundel County Council only pass its Bill 16-22 if amended to include the recommendations of the Anne Arundel County Coalition for Police Accountability. The recommendations were formulated based upon feedback from community leaders and best practices employed by civilian review boards and police accountability boards across the country.

The Bill as currently drafted is heavy with police participation, leaving police investigating themselves and the proposed Board only having review power. The Coalition, like others across the State, are demanding certain amendments before enactment of the bill.

At a previous meeting of the County Council, the Coalition submitted testimonies, both from civil rights activists and people impacted by police misconduct and systemic racism. Despite the numerous and devastating testimonies, along with the expert opinions from the ACLU of Maryland, the Caucus of African American Leaders, the Anne Arundel County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Freedom Fighters LLC, The Annapolis Human Relations Committee, Community Actively Seeking Transparency, Showing Up for Racial Justice Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, United Black Clergy, and a host of others, the vast majority of amendments were rejected.

The Board, once formed, will represent not only Anne Arundel County but Annapolis, Maryland’s Capital. County Executive Steuart Pittman and several other Council members appear to be using the state guidelines for forming the Board as the floor and not the ceiling for the proposed Board’s authority. The County Executive who is running for reelection, has the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police and seems to be unyielding to a number of the Coalition’s recommendations. He currently allows his Chief of Police, Awad Amal, to refuse to allow her officers to meet with several coalition members over policy and procedure improvements that will help the community as a whole.

Collectively, we have heard the lived experiences of countless Black and Brown citizens not only in Anne Arundel County, but across Maryland saying that they experienced racism or brutality at the hands of police. To not have a powerful board with subpoena powers and members chosen based on lived experience, as well as representation from the County’s civil rights organizations, would be to disregard their voices and their pain.

The Coalition invites the community to join them on March 21st at 4:30 p.m. at the corner of Rowe Blvd. and Taylor Ave to march to the People’s Park, at 44 Calvert Street for a 5:30 p.m. Rally. The County Council meeting starts at 7:00 pm. They will be discussing the bill and hearing more testimony.

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