Sunrise Amherst condemns actions against youth by Amherst PD

Published: 08/08/2022 18:25:19 Modified: 08/08/2022 18:22:02 Sunrise Amherst, a local hub of the national youth-led movement for in...

Published: 08/08/2022 18:25:19

Modified: 08/08/2022 18:22:02

Sunrise Amherst, a local hub of the national youth-led movement for intersectional climate justice, racial equity and adoption of the Green New Deal, condemns the actions of the Amherst Police Department on the night of July 4.

That night, the Amherst Police Department revoked a group of BIPOC children from our community and the event was filmed. They were arrested and an individual tried to call their parents, but the police refused to allow them to make the call. Is this how we want our children to be treated?

Police officers earn 30% more than teachers and receive little training to interact with young people. To work with young people in our city, teachers need a master’s degree and must undergo extensive training. We should use the money that goes to working class over-policing and BIPOC youth to give children a better education so they can change the world and make it a better place for generations to come.

This event is part of a national trend of harassment and police brutality towards the BIPOC community. In Tennessee, a 25-year-old man named Brandon Calloway was tracked to his father’s house and brutally beaten after allegedly failing to stop at a stop sign and suspected of having a gun on him after have reached his pocket.

Discrimination, harassment and brutality by the police must end. The children of Amherst were residents of our town and students of our school. Imagine if someone talked to your kids like that. “You don’t have rights, you’re 16, you don’t have rights.” The feeling that adults see us as less than people has been building in us lately, but I hadn’t heard it expressed out loud until then.

Even though we are the generation that is meant to confront and solve climate change, the system makes us feel helpless and na├»ve. The irony of this escapes none of us. We’re trying to finish school and plan how we’re going to stay afloat in this world while thinking about how to keep this world afloat. If you want our generation to start fighting for a better world, you have to give us back our power.

The conduct of officers is unacceptable. It is terrifying that those with a high level of authority in our community are unaware of the fundamental rights of young people. The Amherst Police Department has a policy regarding the treatment of youths which was not followed at this event. It states: “Police officers should be aware that constitutional rights are not lost by age. Were these officers not made aware of departmental policy or did they choose to ignore it?

Anyone detained by the police has the right to call a lawyer or a family member. Despite this, one of the officers involved in the incident refuses to let any of the children make a phone call after he respectfully requests it. This is unacceptable.

Sunrise Amherst is appalled by the silence and lack of corrective action from Amherst Forward, Amherst Police Department leadership and other officers. The absolute silence of these groups and many city councilors suggests that they approve or agree with the actions taken by officers that night.

Sunrise Amherst agrees with the statements made by the Community Safety Task Force and the Progressive Coalition of Amherst. Soon, CRESS responders will take to the streets and take a more respectful and anti-racist approach to incidents like this. We thank these stakeholders for their ongoing work. We demand corrective action, a redistribution of funds from the Amherst Police Department, and better, more transparent and consistent training and documentation practices.

This column was co-authored by Sunrise Amherst members Marisol Peirce Bonifaz, Amrita Rutter and Julian Hynes.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Sunrise Amherst condemns actions against youth by Amherst PD
Sunrise Amherst condemns actions against youth by Amherst PD
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