On December 4th, Houston Justice Coalition hosted our first townhall allowing a space for 300+ community members to express their feelings around the recent no-bill of Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot unarmed Mike Brown in Ferguson. We would later learn the story of Jordan Baker who lost his life at the hands of HPD. He was unarmed.
Since our first meeting, we've met every month driving our campaign forward. At that meeting, we laid out our initial platform, which had three goals:
- Grand Jury Reform
- Body Camera Policy for HPD and HCSO
- Community Policing
Yesterday, the grand jury bill we lobbied for went into effect making our grand jury system random instead of allowing hand-picked juries to decide the fate of citizens. Congratulations to those who signed our petition for grand jury reform, participated in one of our grand jury trainings, went door-to-door getting petition signatures or signed up new grand jury applicants at community events.
The past 289 instances a police officer shot/killed a citizen, the grand jury decided not to have a trial. I'm confident this new law will hold our law enforcement officials accountable now that grand juries will be random and not hand-picked.
As for community policing and body camera policy, we've met with members of city council, the police chief and county sheriff. Until recent backlash, we were confident our efforts were making progress locally with both law enforcement agencies. We will continue our stride toward a fair, transparent body camera policy that allows citizens to access footage when making complaints against law enforcement and vice versa.
Through meetings with city council members, the mayor's office and police chief, we're moving forward with our campaign to have a community voice at the policy making table.
In addition to driving our local platform, we extended a hand to those working in Waller on the effort to bring #JusticeForSandy who was a victim of police brutality. We've sat vigil with Rev. Hannah Bonner and others in front of the jail on some days, met with local officials, and committed toward #JusticeForSandy.
We understand that often it's systemic problems that lead to injustice, so we teamed up with local elected officials and student leaders at Prairie View A&M in developing a strategic plan anchored by voter registration and civic engagement at the city council level.
Moving forward, we will continue our quest for justice. We invite you to join us by signing, then sharing this petition demanding justice for Sandra Bland. We will print them out, then deliver to DPS Director Steve McCraw later this month.
Keep moving forward. We will win this thing together.