CAIR-SV: Community-Based Organizations Call for Justice for Youth Attacked by Fresno Police

(FRESNO, CA, 8/27/19) – As advocates for our communities, we call for justice for London Wallace, 17, a high school student brutally assaulted by Fresno police in January 2019.

Amid newly released body-camera footage, Wallace has filed a lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department, saying officers used excessive force.

READ: Officer who punched teen in face said he was resisting. But video ‘raises concerns,’ chief says. (Washington Post) 

READ: Teenager Who Was Punched Repeatedly by Fresno Officer Sues Police Dept. (NYT) 

READ: Fresno cop shown in video punching teen put on desk duty. Dyer promises full review (Fresno Bee)

Sandra Celedon, president and CEO Fresno Building Healthy Communities, said: “Young people in our city have been calling for change and deserve to be safe in our city. The Fresno Police Department must commit to authentic community policing, including weeding out the bad apples and training all of our officers to serve as true community guardians. Young people of color must stop being profiled, they deserve our protection and guidance. Fresno needs new leadership: one that sees youth in Fresno as the community assets that they are.”

Marcel Woodruff, community organizer, Faith in the Valley, said: “We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the actions of FPD in the assault of Mr. Wallace, and we are committed to seeing officer Martinez held accountable for his actions. We are also concerned with how the incident was handled and the internal investigation process that served to conceal the incident until it was exposed by the media. In light of this horrific occurrence, in which a minor was severely and unjustly mistreated, we are calling not only for the Fresno Police Department to take clear and concrete steps to evolve its policies and procures in regard to enforcement and accountability. Our community deserves to a police department that is dedicated to the service of all its constituents and committed to making a city that is safe for every. The assault on Mr. Wallace and subsequent failure to properly investigate is evidence that change is necessary for the Fresno Police Department to truly live up to this ideal.”

Sukaina Hussain, Central California outreach director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: “As a community, we are very troubled by the attack on Mr. Wallace. The Fresno Police Department must be held accountable for the terrible trauma and pain inflicted on this young man. The youth of Fresno deserve to be treated with dignity and should never fear this type of behavior from FPD. We call on the Department to hold Office Martinez accountable through a full investigation and take measures to ensure that they will act according to high standards of justice.”

BACKGROUNDER: 

Wallace was at a relative’s birthday party on Jan. 23, 2019, when officers allegedly conducting a probation search entered the apartment and ordered Wallace and others to exit the apartment.

Officers conduct a pat-down of Wallace, shown in a video recently shared with news outlets, and then release him, gesturing to Wallace to sit on the floor outside the apartment.

As Wallace goes to sit, another officer is shown grabbing and punching him several times. Wallace is then pinned to the ground and handcuffed, footage shows, and as Wallace sits up, blood is seen on his face.

The lawsuit says Wallace’s nose was broken, among other injuries.

Wallace was unarmed and possessed no illegal substances.

The police officer accused in the attack on Wallace, Christopher Martinez, accused Wallace of resisting arrest and fighting back. Martinez has now been placed on desk duty.

As advocate organizations, we call on the Fresno Police Department to hold Officer Martinez accountable for his actions. Wallace deserves justice and a thorough investigation for the brutal attack that he suffered.

 

Signed,

 

Sandra Celedon, president and CEO Fresno Building Healthy Communities

Marcel Woodruff, community organizer, Faith in the Valley

Samuel Molina, California state director, Mi Familia Vota

Sukaina Hussain, Central California outreach director, Council on American-Islamic Relations

 

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

 

END

 

CONTACT: CAIR-Sacramento Valley/Central California Communications Manager Kalin Kipling-Mojaddedi, 505-231-0909, kkipling@cair.com; CAIR-Central California Outreach Director Sukaina Hussain, 847-924-9592, s.hussain@cair.com


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