Coalition History and 2019
CAPCR HISTORY: 1983 - 2018
I. The Beginning
The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) began in 1983 as a united front to secure justice for Marilyn Banks, killed by a reckless St. Louis city
police officer. That campaign achieved the indictment of Officer Joseph Ferrario and his removal from the force. Unfortunately, a change of venue resulted in Ferrario’s trial being moved to Kansas City where he was acquitted of criminal charges.
II. Victim/Family Support
As a continuation of our work for Marilyn Banks, CAPCR has supported victims of police violence and their families through protest, direct action, media campaigns, and advocacy.
Through the years we have fought for justice for Garland Carter, Julius Thurman, Jerome Johnson, Jerome Ruffin, Earl Murray, Ronald Beasely, Arthur Dobbins, Annette Green and others.
Because obtaining justice has been elusive, our work led us to move to policy and legislative interventions. As a result, CAPCR concentrated its focus on two of its ongoing campaigns: 1) local control of the police and, 2) effective civilian oversight.
III. Local Control of the Police & Effective Civilian Oversight
To manifest our vision, CAPCR long demanded the police department be taken out of the control of the State of Missouri and put back into the hands of the citizens of the City of St. Louis. We also demanded a Civilian Oversight Board (COB) that would be democratically elected by St. Louis city residents.
With the goal of achieving community control, greater transparency and better police accountability, CAPCR began in 1999 to push for an effective Civilian Oversight Board; Alderman Terry Kennedy introduced the first bill in 2001. Our bill for civilian oversight passed the Board of Aldermen (BoA) in 2007, but was vetoed by then Mayor Francis Slay.
In 2015, the COB was finally passed into law. It was created with multiple redundancies for gaining access to police records. In 2018 the COB was granted subpoena power by the BoA.
In 2007 CAPCR publicly launched its campaign to obtain local control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD). After just under 150 years of State control, we wanted to see a police department open and responsive to citizen input. Though there are still many issues to fight in getting effective community control of the police, we won this battle in November, 2013.
Our work now includes emboldening the COB to live up to its mandate and emboldening the Board of Aldermen to fully take charge of their responsibilities towards the implementation of local control over the SLMPD.
IV. Mike Brown & the Ferguson Uprising, 2014-2018
CAPCR campaigns have merged with the larger Ferguson movement to enforce that Black Lives Matters. Our members have been intimately involved since early in August 2014 and have worked as part of the Don’t Shoot Coalition and other groups to achieve justice for Mike Brown and the entire Black community.
CAPCR’s work during these years has included: 1) the Ferguson consent decree, 2) working in coalition with Privacy Watch STL to write surveillance oversight legislation, 3) updating the racial profiling law, 4) updating the COB law, 5) community policing education, 5) re-envisioning public safety workshops, 6) supporting the transition of the first black prosecutor, Wesley Bell, in St. Louis County, 7) family support for Carry Ball, Jr., Isiah Perkins, Isaiah Hammett and others.
CAPCR INITIATIVES 2019
I. CAMPAIGN FOR REAL PUBLIC SAFETY
ReEnvision ~ ReInvest ~ ReBuild
Throughout the United States a call for real public safety is gaining momentum. Recognition that we must end the failed model of ‘arrest & incarcerate’ is growing.
CAPCR has recently kicked off its campaign for a holistic model of achieving real public safety. This will require building the necessary infrastructure for ensuring the stability, growth and thriving of people, families, and neighborhoods.
By resolving the root causes of crime, through applying remedies to crime precursors like poverty, real public safety can be achieved. By flooding distressed parts of the city with jobs, safe housing, affordable healthcare, schools equipped to address all student’s needs, green spaces, mental healthcare, substance abuse programs, and much more, we can bring about the change so desperately needed.
To this end, CAPCR spent 2017 conducting workshops on ReEnvisioning Public Safety. We are now moving into the Reinvestment part of the campaign. CAPCR supports the divesting of monies going to the police department and reinvesting them in public services. An easy starting place would be to forgo the hiring of 130 additional police officers — recommended by Mayor Lyda Krewson, Public Safety Director Jimmy Edwards, and Police Chief John Hayden — and reallocate this money into services. This will entail changing the city budget by June 30, 2019 for fiscal year 2020. The budget is created each year by the Board of Estimate & Apportionment, with input and final passage by the Board of Alders.
II. POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
A) Civilian Oversight Board (COB)
Auditing Police Policies & Practices: Continued Push for Accountability
The COB needs to step up its engagement with the community to familiarize the public with their services. CAPCR continues to urge the COB to engage in Town Halls and other outreach efforts, as is mandated through the COB bill.
The COB has the ability to audit police practices, policies and procedures. This is a vital function of the COB because it goes to the heart of addressing and changing toxic police culture. A high priority is an audit of the Civilian Disobedience Team (CDT), SWAT/Mobile Reserve and the Force Investigative Unit (FIU). Additionally, there needs to be an audit of police shootings accompanied by recommendations for practice, policy and procedural changes.
Without ongoing public pressure to fulfill its mandate the COB could end up becoming just another superficial government bureaucracy.
B) Establishing a Department of Civilian Oversight (DCO)
CAPCR is calling for the creation of a Department of Civilian Oversight (DCO). Currently the Public Safety Director is in charge of both the police department and the COB which is an appearance of conflict of interest. In order for the COB to be truly independent it needs to be separated in its entirety from the police department.
CAPCR is calling for the Force Investigative Unit to be housed in the DCO. The FIU investigates police shootings. Making it independent of the police department is critical to transparency and objectivity.
CAPCR is also calling for the DCO to create and house an Office of Jail Oversight.
C) Victim/Family Support
From CAPCR’s inception victim/family support has been integral to its work. Current CAPCR family support work has focused on the families of Isaiah Hammett, Cary Ball, Jr., Isiah Perkins and others.
Support includes helping the victim/family with: 1) home support: groceries, childcare, etc., 2) securing a lawyer, 3) fundraising for funeral and hospital bills, 3) navigating the legal system, 4) navigating the mainstream media, 5) documenting what happened, 6) securing therapy, 7) planning and implementing a campaign of public education regarding each incident with the goal of obtaining justice for the victim/family.
The degree to which we can offer victim/family support depends on the financial and people resources we have at any given time.
CAPCR is currently involved, through coalition work, with three pieces of legislation: 1) Surveillance Bill, 2) COB Bill - rewrite, and 3) Missouri Racial Profiling Bill--rewrite. The two St. Louis bills were introduced into the BoA on Friday, January 11. The state-wide bill has been introduced every year since 2015. CAPCR will continue to follow each bill through passage and implementation.