Almost 3 years ago, we told you about an incident that occurred at the Manna House, a place of hospitality and sanctuary for men and women experiencing homelessness, when officers arrested a staff person, then HOPE Organizing Coordinator, Paul Garner as they attempted to film police who were entering the Manna House property without a warrant. Two years, 11 months and 20 days (ALMOST THREE YEARS) after we initially filed a complaint with Internal affairs, Garner’s case was finally heard before the newly reformed and empowered Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB).
Garner pointed out during the hearing, that the MPD policy which outlines civilian’s right to film officers was released in December 2013, almost two months after he was arrested on October 21st, 2013. The CLERB then approved a motion to obtain the policy in place at the time of the arrest and continued Garner’s hearing until next month so that they could request not only the public recording policy, but also relevant film footage from the incident that has not yet been made available to CLERB by Internal Affairs & MPD.
This is exactly what we hoped for. Why, you may ask….. At the time of the incident, then MPD Director Toney Armstrong, flip flopped on whether or not there was a policy on filming in place; first saying there wasn’t, then saying there was an old one that was being revised, andfinally releasing the NEW policy in December, but only after a mass protest on City Hall forced them to do so. We do not believe there was a policy at the time. So it will be interesting how MPD responds to CLERB’s request. They have only a few options: release the policy (if it ever existed), admit that there was NEVER an old policy, or simply refuse to cooperate with the request, in which case CLERB would be able to utilize their new subpoena process.
We will continue to seek justice on this and other cases through CLERB, as a way to ensure there is an a process in place to hold officers accountable that is accessible to ALL PEOPLE, not just those with the time, resources, institutional knowledge, and privilege to follow up and navigate the process. CLERB’s next meeting is Thursday, November 10th, at 4PM :: City Hall :: 125 N Main