NEW ORLEANS, LA - In response to the newspaper report of the alleged assault on an African-American woman by three white NOPD officers, the ACLU of Louisiana issues a call for a swift and impartial response to this incident, along with systemic reform of the Department.
"The ACLU hopes that the Department will take this assault incident very seriously, and consider criminal charges against the officers," said Katie Schwartzmann, Staff Attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. "Fairness demands that police officers get the same treatment as would any other person who commits an assault. If the evidence supports an assault charge, they should be prosecuted."
In an effort to investigate police violence problems, the ACLU today issued a Public Records Act request to the NOPD. New Orleans is not new to excessive force problems within the police department. In recent months we have seen the beating of Robert Davis on Bourbon Street, and the shooting of Anthony Hayes on St. Charles Avenue. The problems were rampant before the storm, with the arrest of one officer on rape charges and, in an unrelated incident, the death of Raymond Robair in the Treme. Both the death of Robair and the rape occurred in the month preceding Katrina.
"Based on complaints we receive, we believe that police violence and unwarranted stops disproportionately affect people of color," said Schwartzmann. "It's time to take a look at whether the NOPD is conducting the trainings required by its profiling policy. We also need to look at the volume of complaints from citizens, and the ultimate disposition of those complaints. This is not a new problem. This is not a Katrina problem. The Department must take steps to reprimand any improper behavior in this incident, and it must also take steps toward systemic reform."
The ACLU's request to the NOPD is attached. The ACLU is a member of Safe Streets/ Strong Communities, an organization and coalition of lawyers, advocates, and concerned citizens working toward a new criminal justice system in New Orleans, one that creates safe streets and strong communities for everyone regardless of race or economic status. The ACLU will work with Safe Streets to analyze any information received in response to the request.
Persons who have had problems with police violence or racial profiling are encouraged to fill out an ACLU complaint form, which can be found at www.laaclu.org, or to contact Safe Streets/ Strong Communities at (504) 522-3949.
To view the ACLU of Louisiana's Public Records Act request, CLICK HERE