AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — After stalling in committee, Akron City Council on Monday passed a resolution by a vote of 10-3 in support of federal police reform legislation.
House Resolution 1280 passed the United States House of Representatives on March 3. It now sits in the Senate awaiting debate and discussion there.
On Thursday local pastors and community activists gathered to add their voices to the urging of U.S. Senators to take action on the bill.
H.B. 1280, which is also known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is a 138-page document that addresses numerous concerns. Among them is the establishment of an independent investigation and review of questionable use of force cases by officers under the supervision of the Attorneys General of each state.
It would require officers with a body-worn camera to explain why the body-worn camera was not recording if that was the case in a scenario where it is required.
It would also create a federal police misconduct registry under the U.S. Department of Justice.
“We can say no to the legal shield of qualified immunity and no to the complicity with other officers not intervening,” said Rev. Dr. Penfield, an Episcopal Priest and Social Justice Advocate.
“The key issue for me is transparency and accountability, every profession all public services have to hold their people responsible for their behavior,” said Martin Belsky, a professor of law and member of the Jewish Community Board of Akron.
The interracial, interdenominational panel on Thursday congratulated the Akron City Council for passing the resolution. Panel members also called on other local lawmakers across the state and Summit County to follow suit.
“To have police reform does not make you anti-police. To ask for police reform supports good policing and it helps root out bad policing,” said Rev. Gregory Harrison of Antioch Baptist Church.
“We believe that this act will satisfy some of the public’s cry to be heard with the concrete act of goodwill from our elected officials,” said Minister Stephen Muhammed. “Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter — wanting for your neighbor what you want for yourself is what we are really talking about,”
Also present for Thursday’s panel was Akron City Council Member Tara Mosley Samples who helped sponsor the resolution in Akron. She believes it was only brought out of committee and to the entire council through the urging of community activists who pushed for a local vote.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Mosley Samples read a letter from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown urging the council to pass the resolution. She called on members of the Summit County Council to also vote on a similar resolution.
“We want to challenge them to pass their resolution. We want to challenge other municipalities across the county to pass a resolution in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” said Mosley Samples.
She added that a similar resolution was scheduled to be before the Stow City Council on Thursday.
“We are here today to ask you to take a step forward to becoming courageous and yes, honest. And, stand up on a principle of truth that in a larger narrative will benefit the citizens that we all attempt to serve,” said Muhammed. “We find this act to be a good first step toward addressing the public’s need to know that they are seen as human beings first and not just a suspect or a second class citizen.”
“We need to contact our senators and push them and also our majority and minority leader to push them and get them to act on this immediately,” said Penfield