(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/24/16) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nationâ€™s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today joined the Campaign for Justice, Safety, & Jobs (CJSJ) in calling on Baltimore City to authorize civilian voting members on police trial boards after an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray last Spring was acquitted Monday.
SEE: Freddie Gray case: Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero found not guilty of all charges
Charges against Officer Edward Nero focused in part on his role in not properly securing Gray in the police transport van by failing to buckle his seatbelt or apply restraints.
In a step forward for police reform in Maryland, the 2016 session of the state legislature passed a bill that raises the standard for law enforcement officers' conduct and authorizes more oversight and transparency. State law previously extended extensive protections to officers through one of the nation's most lenient officers' bill of rights.
However, a â€œcommon senseâ€ bill that would have prohibited â€œrough ridesâ€ and required detainees to be restrained by a seatbelt while being transported in police custody died in committee.
This basic precaution of fastening seat belts could have prevented the fatal injury Gray suffered while handcuffed and shackled (but left unrestrained) in a police van last April.
Despite progress on police reform, the outcomes thus far in the trials of the six officers charged in Gray's death underscore concerns that meaningful police reform especially in Baltimore City is far from reality.
Coalition partners are urging Baltimore City officials to add two civilians to police trial boards. This step will help ensure greater oversight and transparency and restore some measure of faith in the justice system.
CJSJ member organizations include 1199 SEIU, ACLU of Maryland, Amnesty International, Bmore United, CASA, Communities United, Equity Matters, Empowerment Temple, Freddie Gray Project, Jews United for Justice, Justice League, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Maryland State Conference NAACP, and Pleasant Hope Baptist Church, among others.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-971-6062