PITTSBURGH—In response to concerns over the beating of Pittsburgh CAPA student Jordan Miles by Pittsburgh police officers in January, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) and the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) will host a community meeting to inform local residents – and particularly young people – about their constitutional rights and how to protect those rights in such situations.
The event will take place on Monday, March 15th at 6:30pm in the St. James AME Church Social Hall, 444 Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh, 15206.
Duquesne University Adjunct Law Professor and Pittsburgh ACLU Chapter Board Member Tracey McCants Lewis will present information on individual rights and responsibilities in various situations involving police encounters. “We hope to arm people with information regarding their legal rights when interacting with police so that incidents like this one won’t be repeated,” explained Ms. McCants Lewis.
The forum will also examine some of the troubling issues brought to light by the incident involving Mr. Miles. University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris, a nationally-recognized expert on racial profiling, will take a critical look at the larger issues of profiling, police misconduct and accountability.
ACLU-PA Legal Director Witold “Vic” Walczak has expressed concerns over the conduct of the officers in this case, “What happened to Jordan Miles, and the program under which the officers were working, is reminiscent of the ‘jump squads’ that we forced the Pittsburgh Police Department to disband in the mid-1990’s. Our concern is that these practices have returned and Miles is just the most recent and visible victim.”
B-PEP Chairman and community leader Tim Stevens will discuss ways that the community can move forward in seeking accountability and work toward sound relations between police and the community. “In my opinion,” explained Mr. Stevens, “the Jordan Miles incident presents a significant and historic opportunity to move the reform agenda that many of us have been working toward for many years with regard to raising the standards of professionalism in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and improving police-community relations in the city.”
The ACLU-PA and B-PEP especially encourage area youth to attend this important forum to share their experiences and arm themselves with a better understanding of their constitutional rights.
More information, along with the ACLU-PA’s “You and the Police: Rights, Responsibilities, and Reality” guide and short film Pull Over… What to Do can be found at: /issues/policepractices or by calling 412-681-7736.