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Faith Leaders Unite to Ban Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Members of City Council
100 Military Plaza #4
San Antonio, TX 78205

Faith Leaders Unite to Ban Chokeholds and No-Knock Warrants 

COPS/Metro, in partnership with Community Churches for Social Action (CCSA), and the Baptist Ministers’ Union (BMU) calls on the City of San Antonio to take direct and immediate action to completely ban police use of any neck restraint (strangleholds, chokeholds) collectively referred to as lateral vascular neck restraint (LVNR),  along with the use of no-knock warrants in any instance. Although changes have been made to San Antonio policing policy since the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, these changes do not go far enough.

One only needs to look around the country to understand why complete bans on these procedures are needed, both to ensure the safety of citizens and build trust with communities of color. In the past month alone, we have seen the impacts of systemic racism on communities. Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police as his children looked on, while here in our own San Antonio community, a local insurance adjuster, Mathais Ometu, was detained, manhandled, and jailed for the simple offense of jogging while Black. Systemic racism and bias are widespread and deeply rooted, and San Antonio is no exception. We must follow the examples of cities like Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, and Louisville; each of which have enacted policies that aim to take subjectivity and officer discretion out of the equation when it comes to the use of tactics that disproportionately dehumanize Black and Brown people.

Police Chief McManus argues that the city has already made changes to prohibit the use of the chokehold and no-knock warrants, but after reviewing the San Antonio Police General Operating Manual available on the city’s transparency website, Section 501 and  Section 504 both have clear language that allow these dangerous practices. Chokeholds can be used as one of multiple deadly force options if the officer has “reasonable belief” that their life or the lives of others are in danger, while no knock warrants are also permissible if “the officer in charge can articulate particular exigent circumstances” that would require an unannounced entry. After bearing witness to unjust uses of force only compounded by lax police discipline and accountability procedures, how can communities trust in the “reasonable use” of these deadly tactics?

Many of our local conversations about police reform become wrapped up in the intricacies and limitations of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA) and the city. Although there is much in the CBA that needs to be addressed, we don’t need to wait until 2021 to make specific, actionable change on these two policies that threaten the lives of our citizens and further damage and erode trust between Black and Brown communities and police.  The City Council has the power to change these policies today.

If white community members were disproportionately arrested, profiled, assaulted, and killed by the use of these two use of force policies, certainly the policies would be changed immediately. 

Will San Antonio rise to the occasion and put its money where its mouth is in the fight for equal justice and policing? For us to truly live into the “Compassionate SA” ethos, we must make the strides available to us today. Each step pushes us forward in the march toward equity. COPS/Metro, Community Churches for Social Action and the Baptist Ministers’ Union call on City Council to do what is right: take action and immediately ban the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

Sincerely, 

Sr. Gabriella Lohan, Sisters of the Holy Spirit
Leader, COPS/Metro

Pastor Patrick Jones, Pastor, Greater Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
President, Baptist Minister’s Union

Dr. Jerry Wm Dailey, Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church
Chairman, Community Churches for Social Action (CCSA) 

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Crime

10-year-old black girl dies from online TikTok challenge, family warns others.

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Nyla Anderson, a 10-year old girl from Chester, Pennsylvania, has sadly died after reportedly trying the “blackout challenge” that tells participants to hold their breath until they faint. Her grieving family wants to alert others about its dangers.

Nyla was found unconscious in her bedroom of their home on December 7. She was rushed to the hospital where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for days before she died on December 12.

“She happened to be in her own bedroom of her house, with her family at home,” Elizabeth Wood, a licensed clinical social worker at the local hospital, told ABC 7. “But no one was in the bedroom with her when this happened, so there was no one there to save her.”

Her family describes her as a happy and bright child who spoke 3 languages. They are still in a state of shock after Nylah’s tragic death.

“I’m so hurt,” said her mother Tawainna Anderson. “This is a pain that won’t go away. It’s at the top of my throat. I am so hurt.”

Moreover, Nylah’s family wanted her story to be known, warning other parents to keep a close eye on their children to prevent it from happening.

“Make sure you check your kids’ phones,” Tawainna said. “You never know what you might find on their phones. You wouldn’t think 10-year-olds would try this. They’re trying because they’re kids and they don’t know better.”

The trend, which reportedly traces back to the 1990s, had been recently resurfacing on social media where it spreads faster. A TikTok spokesperson said it is taking measures to stop users from sharing any content that promotes dangerous behavior.

“This disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend,” the spokesperson said, according to Today. “We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”

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Community

Another Blow Dealt: Charges Not Directly Linked To Victim Breonna Taylor

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Residents of Louisville, Kentucky along with spectators across the world have waited for more than six months with anticipation for the verdict in the Breonna Taylor case. Anticipation has been boiling so much so that city and state officials began preparing days ago for uncertainty in the event that protests and riots could potentially break out once the verdict was read. The Kentucky National Guard and state police were called in and a 72-hour countywide curfew has been enacted. Once again there is further division, unrest, and lack of trust in another American city as clashes have already began to erupt in the streets of Louisville.

The verdict is in and the long-awaited grand jury charges are as follows. Only one former police officer, Brett Hankinson, was indicted on three felony counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. In a nutshell, the other two officers will face no charges and the charges Hankinson faces are not directly related to the wrongful death of Breonna Taylor, but rather his reckless action of “wantonly shooting a gun” into an apartment (not Breonna’s). First-degree wanton endangerment is a Class D felony, the lowest of four classes of felonies, the maximum sentence is five years; the minimum is one year.

Last week an announcement was made by the city of Louisville that a $12 million settlement had been reached with the family of Breonna Taylor. Continued prayers for the family of Breonna Taylor and the city of Louisville.

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Community

More Outrage and Disbelief

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There’s been another morally questionable shooting of a Black man. 29 year old Jacob Blake was shot several times in his back by the Kenosha, Wisconsin Police Department as he was getting in his car after allegedly breaking up a fight between two women.

Video from CBS This Morning. Before viewing please note the video is very graphic.

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