NAACP Fears Biden Gun Control Plan Adds Discriminatory DP Oversight

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – The leaders of the Grand Rapids NAACP are concerned that President Biden’s gun control and anti-violence plan unfairly targets members of the Brown and Black community.

Biden’s plan encourages cities to provide us with COVID relief funds allocated through the US bailout. Biden’s plan suggests that money allocated in this way could be used to hire additional law enforcement officials or pay overtime when the funds are directly spent promoting community policing strategies.

The money can also be used for law enforcement efforts such as prosecuting gun traffickers, rogue dealers, and combating gun trafficking channels.

The plan also suggests that cities can use the money to invest in technology and equipment to enable law enforcement to respond more effectively and efficiently to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic. The NAACP is concerned about giving the green light to programs that target minorities rather than working with the community to reduce crime.

The city of Grand Rapids received more than $ 92 million in funds, and in the fall, the city offered to use the COVID relief funds to support a program called ShotSpotter. The program uses sensors installed throughout the city to alert the 911 dispatch that a gunshot has gone off, triggering a response from law enforcement.

In the end, the proposal was not passed, but the NAACP is concerned that the COVID money could revive efforts to reinstate surveillance technology like ShotSpotters.

“All this is going to do is just encourage excessive oversight of these communities, which will eventually lead to unnecessary death, unnecessary harm,” said attorney Carlton T. Mayers II, counsel for reform of the police with the NAACP. “When you combine their model or practice of racial profiling, excessive use of force with this technology and these tactics that we know, for a fact that encourages excessive surveillance, which ultimately results in unnecessary death and harm to residents. black and brown. ”

ShotSpotter was the program that notified the policy of the fatal shooting involving an officer in Chicago when an officer shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Critics say the program is unreliable and sends false alarms to the scene, similar to the situation where Toledo was playing with his friend with an unloaded pistol.

Instead, the NAACP would like funds to be allocated to community engagement initiatives such as a citizens’ advisory committee that would be made up of civilians, especially those in minority areas with a strong police presence.

The committee would work with the City of Grand Rapids Commission and the Police Department to determine if new technology is needed and how to use it, if purchased. The NAACP also calls for mandatory public hearings before technology or surveillance purchases.

“The overall goal is to interact with law enforcement so that the community feels safe. So if you listen to them, there are other ways that the money can improve the community can help them. community relations, there are different stages, different programs that need funding that would also help the communities that they are trying to get involved in, ”said Gayle Harvey, executive director of external relations for the NAACP.

FOX 17 has contacted both the city and the police department. The two said they do not comment on legislative matters, but also added that there are currently no proposals to add additional surveillance in the region. They also said they have no plans to offer ShotSpotter technology for the second time.

If they plan to adopt other types of technology in the future, this should be submitted for approval and discussion at city committee meetings.

Mayers wrote an op-ed following the Biden administration’s announcement. It will be published locally as well as online. You can read it before the print publication here.

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