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TRANSCRIPT: “Ending Stop-and-Frisk…in the City of Pittsburgh” (Starting Point, Jan 16 2015)

In Speeches on January 19, 2015 at 6:18 pm
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“Considering the fact that the shooting of Leon Ford Jr. was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics and the assault on Jordan Miles was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics, coupled with the fact that the City of Pittsburgh has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past couple of years due to lawsuits involving the police – is Stop-and-Frisk really something that we should continue in our beloved city, especially when empirical evidence shows that roughly 9 out of 10 Stop-and-Frisk incidents end without an arrest or a capture of illegal guns?”

PITTSBURGH: (JANUARY 19, 2015 – MLK DAY) Transcript of Lenny McAllister’s “Starting Point” concerning the end of Stop-And Frisk” tactics in the City of Pittsburgh.

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We begin with a Starting Point that looks back at a special get to the point episode, one where we welcomed new Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay to the Get To the Point Panel along with NOBLE’s Professor Gregory Rogers and Pitts’s Dr. Waverly Duck.

 

With all of the national headlines and local controversies aside, I found Chief McLay to be educated, articulate, skilled, and refreshing as he brings his leadership style to the City of Pittsburgh’s Police Bureau. I believe that, through tough conversations and courageous action, communities throughout the city and the police can work through mistrust and misunderstandings in order to keep Pittsburghers safe on both sides of the badge. With that in mind, however, two major developments over the past several weeks – including those that have come about after appearing on this show on January 9th – have shown us how far we must go as a city to heal wounds, protect citizens, and honor the constitutional rights of all of us across different neighborhoods and demographics.

 

The first development comes from a revamped dispute over the common sense tweet sent out by Chief McLay on new year’s eve – the tweet that got him national acclaim and heated rebuke from Pittsburgh’s chapter of the fraternal order of police. After a written apology by McLay on January 2nd and the chief’s admission on this show that the F.O.P. And he were on the same page by January 9th, the chief subsequently shut down his twitter account after a reported meeting with the head of the F.O.P. -Howard McQuillen – on January 14th and issued a memo that same day advising officers not to share information outside the ranks including with media under threat of discipline up to and including termination. The shutting down of transparency and open accountability after McLay’s newsworthy tweet also includes the inconvenient fact that his twitter account was actually shut down on January 13th, not after the meeting on the 14th – which leads to the second development.

 

After viewers saw the #EndWhiteSilence police chief on the Get To The Point panel last week (January 9) publicly defend the use of stop-and-frisk tactics in the City of Pittsburgh – a police procedure that has led to protests from New York City to Oakland – some in social media and grassroots communities began to question how a man committed to ending racism at his workplace was also justifying the use of the racially-controversial tactic of Stop-and-Frisk as a necessary tool for police officers. Even Chief McLay himself said in December that only 3 to 5 percent of the black community makes up the trouble-makers we all seek to bring to justice. Yet, in Pittsburgh, African-Americans make up over 62 percent of the warrantless searches – that is, Stop-and-Frisk searches – despite being only 26 percent of Pittsburgh’s population. Considering the fact that the shooting of Leon Ford Jr. was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics and the assault on Jordan Miles was a result of stop-and-frisk tactics, coupled with the fact that the City of Pittsburgh has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past couple of years due to lawsuits involving the police – is Stop-and-Frisk really something that we should continue in our beloved city, especially when empirical evidence shows that roughly 9 out of 10 Stop-and-Frisk incidents end without an arrest or a capture of illegal guns?

 

Now, I don’t believe that Chief McLay is a racist and I don’t believe that the major of police officers are racists – I said that last Friday, and I emphatically say that again tonight. However, it is impractical and almost impossible to commit to ending racism, sexism, or any form of systematic hatred that may be found within police ranks – or anywhere in the workplaces of America – if we also simultaneously justify any tool, policy, or behavior that enforces the hatred we seek to overcome. We need both sides of the badge to be safe everyday, but we also must adhere to the tenets of our nation, including the Fourth Amendment regarding illegal searches because – after all – thousands of Americans in blue have died serving us as police officers, just as millions of Americans have died in uniform defending the sovereignty of the United States and the Constitution we hold dear.

 

After Chief McLay’s recent welcome to Pittsburgh, national attention due to his common sense tweet – which I still defend – and his appearance last week on the Get to the Point Panel, it’s clear that we need consistent and forthright transparency from our police forces, both here in Pittsburgh and around the nation. Without it, the crisis of confidence may remain validly intact. Further, it’s self-evident that we must continue the dialogue about police practices if we are going to bridge the divide between communities of color and police officers, especially here in home.

 

The thousands of protesters across our region, our nation, and the globe have made it clear: #blacklivesmatter – and the continued use of Stop-and-Frisk is a non-starter for dialogue and partnerships with urban communities. If Chief McLay is to be successful healing the divide between communities of color and the police, Stop-and-Frisk must immediately become a flaw from our past here in Pittsburgh, not a racially-flawed and controversial part of our future. Warrantless searches – Stop-and-Frisk – must officially cease in the City of Pittsburgh where it’s applied 62 percent of the time against 26 percent of the city where the police force is going after only 1 percent of the population that’s actually committing crime.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s fitting that as we sit on the eve of MLK Day weekend, we have the power to fulfill his words and legacy by addressing and ending a reality that marks the gloom of inconsistency, mistrust, and divisiveness. It’s time for a return to the sunlight of our constitutional protections as American citizens, our civil rights legacy as proud neighbors, and better days ahead as #OneBigTeam. That starts with ending Stop-and-Frisk here in the City of Pittsburgh.”

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“Stop-and-Frisk Must Officially Cease in the City of Pittsburgh” (Jan 16, 2015)

In Video on January 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm
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Conservative political commentator Lenny McAllister uses the Jan 16th “Starting Point” monologue to highlight the woes of “Stop-And-Frisk” tactics nationally and calls for an immediate end to the practice within the City of Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH (January 16, 2015): “Now, I don’t believe that Chief McLay is a racist and I don’t believe that the major of police officers are racists…(h)owever, it is impractical and almost impossible to commit to ending racism, sexism, or any form of systematic hatred that may be found within police ranks – or anywhere in the workplaces of America – if we also simultaneously justify any tool, policy, or behavior that enforces the hatred we seek to overcome…Stop-and-Frisk – must officially cease in the City of Pittsburgh where it’s applied 62 percent of the time against 26 percent of the city…”

 

Political commentator and community advocate Lenny McAllister (host, “NightTalk: Get To The Point Panel”) discusses Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay’s woes after the #EndWhiteSilence tweet on December 31 and his voiced support for Stop-and-Frisk tactics in the City of Pittsburgh in 2015. McAllister uses the “Starting Point” monologue to the show to call for an immediate end to Stop-and-Frisk tactics in Pittsburgh.

 

We need both sides of the badge to be safe everyday, but we also must adhere to the tenets of our nation, including the Fourth Amendment regarding illegal searches because – after all – thousands of Americans in blue have died serving us as police officers, just as millions of Americans have died in uniform defending the sovereignty of the United States and the Constitution we hold dear…if we are going to bridge the divide between communities of color and police officers, especially here in home…the continued use of Stop-and-Frisk is a non-starter for dialogue and partnerships with urban communities…”

 

McAllister’s Starting Point from the Jan 16 episode can be found HERE

ICYMI: The 21st Century Model of Protests (News One Now – December 18)

In Video on January 5, 2015 at 11:19 am
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Kansas City radio morning show host Kim Brown (Hot 103 Jamz) listens as media personality and community activist Lenny McAllister (Pittsburgh Cable News Channel / Newsradio 1020 KDKA) chimes in during “News One Now” with Roland Martin

Washington, DC (December 18, 2014): TV Host and veteran journalist Roland Martin (TV One) leads his News One Now panel in a discussion concerning the role and passion of modern-day protests. This episode’s panel includes media personality and political commentator Lenny McAllister (PCNC’s “NightTalk: Get to the Point” and Newsradio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh), radio show host Kim Brown, and think tank CEO Dr. Avis Jones-Deweever.

 

Watch the clip by clicking the picture above or clicking HERE

An Open Letter to Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay

In Articles on December 26, 2014 at 1:07 am
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“Understandably, our appreciation and respect become challenged when we collectively put too much pressure on ‘the community’ to change its ways without calling for and overseeing appropriate, holistic, and long-term actions of accountability by those with the capabilities to enforce laws, ensure ethics, and commit traumatic and life-ending acts within the blink of an eye. ” – – – Lenny McAllister, “An Open Letter to Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay” (Christmas Day, 2014)

Christmas Day, 2014

Dear Chief McLay,

Belated congratulations on your new role here in our community. As you will quickly find out, Pittsburgh, PA is a very unique place, full of both wonderful characteristics and noteworthy challenges. It is truly a place worth living in, working for, and improving upon as we head into 2015 and beyond together.

I commend you on your willingness to write an open letter to us within “the community” to address race relations between police departments and communities of color throughout the nation as well as here in our hometown of Pittsburgh. The necessary of your letter and the nature of these tenuous times churned my spirit to reply to your letter immediately as a member of “the community”, even on this blessed holiday of Christmas. Perhaps it is most appropriate that on a day of celebration of the gifts of life and redemption, this conversation sprouts forth a new hope.

It is unfortunate that this latest invitation for dialogue and partnership comes on the heels of the horrific and deplorable killings of two officers in New York and anonymous threats against officers in several cities including Pittsburgh. Yet, over the history of America, incidents and patterns of violence and violations against African-Americans are initially and responsively met with calls for patience and calm, while reactions to inexcusable acts of violence against selective others due to social unrest and imbalances are met with calls to action. One could view the transition of Mr. Derbish from in-uniform duty to plain clothes duty (akin to the tragic situation involving Pittsburgh’s Jordan Miles and Philadelphia’s Darrin Manning – incidents where police misconduct was alleged against law-abiding African-American young men by plain-clothes officers) to desk duty in such a vein; (his removal from “the community” and public interaction coming after multiple Zone 5 protests and the ghastly shooting of members of the NYPD.) Despite this repetitive pattern re-emerging – engagement as a result of violence against a particular portion of our community after years of overlooking the lingering injustice hampering us all – a genuine step in the right direction is a welcomed step towards overarching peace nonetheless.

I also thank you for your understanding that, indeed, we face a “…crisis of confidence…” between Black citizens of this nation (particularly those living in urban America) and police forces (and, therein, the criminal justice system overall). After die-ins and protests in places such as downtown Pittsburgh and Ross Park Mall here in our region along with the circumstances playing out in Mall of America, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Ferguson (among others), it is good that the nation is facing collectively what Black America has dealt with for generations: a jaundiced view of the American ethos “…liberty and justice for all…” and that “…all men are created equal…” – resounding sentiments that we are all taught as children but we regularly do not apply or experience as we come of age in this country.

Chief McLay, the re-focus on accountability is respectable yet incomplete. I caution us all against the comfort of civic conversation when the courage for community enhancement is required. Demonstrating “…to our communities of color that we hear and understand the pain…” may be devoid of meaning if a kinetic understanding of the structural, cultural, and functional problems that keep us at this point of general tension and mistrust lacks 360-degree progress.

You ask several questions in your open letter. They include:

(W)hat are we going to do, Pittsburgh? Police work is often not pretty.

Officers must arrest violators. Violators often resist, sometimes violently.

When the next ugly incident happens, will we be willing to withhold judgment and control our emotions long enough to give each other the benefit of the doubt? Are we going to work together toward reconciliation? Are we going to work on listening to one another with the intention of compassionate understanding?”

Yet, your questions – regrettably – permeate the problems with community perceptions that must be addressed, affected, and aligned with the true spirit of the aforementioned American ethos if we are to succeed as one big team.

To be fair, African-Americans in Pittsburgh – much like the rest of Pittsburgh and our region – appreciate and respect our police bureau, especially as we concur that “…police work is often not pretty.”

As well, we agree: “…officers must arrest violators.” However, we also believe that violators maintain their constitutional rights – notably that of “innocent until proven guilty.” Sadly, our appreciation and respect are challenged when these constitutional rights are bruised during police interactions. They become bruised when police abuse of suspects (citizens that are presumed innocent until proven guilty) occur in places such as Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, and elsewhere – often with no “…punitive reasons…” or actions towards reassignment or firings afterward (such as the case here in Pittsburgh) despite life-altering breaches of training, procedures, or laws.

We agree: “…Violators often resist, sometimes violently…” However, we wonder why Eric Frein, Dominic Adesanya, and Omar Gonzales can be taken alive to have their days in court – enjoying their presumptions of “innocent until proven guilty” – while a Black man “armed” with a toy gun (in a toy section of Wal-mart) and a 12-year-old Black youth – both living in an “open carry” state – were cut down by officers that acted as “…judge, jury, and executioner…” The pain felt by “the community” runs deeper with the reality that often times, these incidents include officers that have prior questionable incidents in their backgrounds. Disturbingly, our appreciation and respect are challenged when these inconsistencies between incidents involving fellow citizens highlight dual and disjointed tracks of police-public interactions and expectations in our United States.

We agree: we must be willing to “… withhold judgment…control our emotions…give each other the benefit of the doubt… work together toward reconciliation…listening to one another with the intention of compassionate understanding.” We must all be “…extremely concerned about the potential for similar violence and for the safety of our officers…”

However, we must also focus on results that are tangible, holistic and historic – not merely reactionary, targeted, and cursory.

Withholding judgment must include “the community” processing all of the facts on a case-by-case basis just as it must include Pittsburgh police and others within law enforcement pushing aside racial profiling to deal with members of the community individually – thus discontinuing indignities such as the one that I (again) endured as a law-abiding citizen in the city just this month. Withholding judgment against all cops cannot be met with the continuation or condoning of “stop-and-frisk”, “driving while Black”, and “jump-out squads” tactics and philosophies.

Controlling our emotions must include eradicating vitriolic rhetoric against all police officers just as it must erode the knee-jerk public stances to protect officers involved in police misconduct or the indiscriminate rejection of protests denouncing said behavior.

Working together towards reconciliation must include making sure that all citizens are appropriately safe during all interactions between police and the public – most notably “the community” – not just citizens that wear a badge.

Being “…extremely concerned about the potential for similar violence…” must hold the same resonance and importance for citizens’ safety within “the community” as it does “…for the safety of our officers” – especially when execution-style murders of brave police officers by suicidal gunmen are rarer than the once-every-28-hours tragedies that befall communities of color in America in recent years from Charlotte to Milwaukee.

Understandably, our appreciation and respect become challenged when we collectively put too much pressure on “the community” to change its ways without calling for and overseeing appropriate, holistic, and long-term actions of accountability by those with the capabilities to enforce laws, ensure ethics, and commit traumatic and life-ending acts within the blink of an eye.

Compassionate understanding comes from the acknowledgment that pain forecasts an issue that must be remedied immediately and properly so that discomfort can subside and dysfunction can cease. Sir, it is of the utmost importance that the discomfort currently felt throughout America (particularly within police bureaus such as ours here in Pittsburgh) is remedied alongside the underlying dysfunction simultaneously lest the pain continue and the problems remain. Sadly, the issues between police and “the community” that are highlighted during times of police misconduct and controversial interactions with us are symptomatic of the greater societal conundrum regarding the modern-day disjointedness, disparities, and frustrations based on race in America. These are hardly issues that exclusively burden police forces. We all as Americans own them. Yet, the burdens involved in police-community interactions uniquely entail irreversible consequences that occur in lightning-quick moments – thus prompting immediate remedy.

Rest assured, Chief McLay, that your job and those of the thousands of officers that serve throughout America are not thankless at all. We commend you all for your service and pray for your safety daily. The core values of “Accountability, Integrity and Respect” are honorable, especially as long the duty to protect and serve all American citizens and Pittsburgh residents – including those in “the community” – remains paramount.

The truth is: we have the ability to shift an oft-ignored national paradigm between Black America and police forces, including the inconsistent one between affected Pittsburghers and the police force in our hometown. My faith as a native of the region, as a father of 3 African-American sons, and as a Believer prompt me to ensure that we, indeed, all choose wisely for better days ahead. Through ongoing appropriate protests, representative engagements of stakeholders, new relationships of trust, and necessary progress, things must improve for citizens on both sides of the badge for Pittsburgh to truly be a most livable city. I believe that they will.

Happy Holidays to you and yours as well as to those throughout our Pittsburgh community.

 – Lenny McAllister, Pittsburgh-born community advocate and urban activist, current Pittsburgh boomerang and resident