YAL & BLM at Houston City Hall

On Tuesday, August 2nd representatives from the YAL chapter at University of Houston joined their voices with a coalition of groups like Black Lives Matter by demanding changes to the policing policies of the City of Houston. One of the concerns and solutions raised was the fact that the current City of Houston body camera policy is wasteful. We weren’t just concerned with the waste associated with the program but also the fact that cameras can be turned on and off at will by the officer often leaving gaps in the video recording where allegations of abuse took place. Another concern was the lack of community policing, a policy that has had success around the country in tackling crime, and removing the adversarial feel of law enforcement presence in some communities. This policy is endorsed by Radley Balko in Rise of The Warrior Cop. The third demand was that an independent citizens review board be established with subpoena power to investigate allegations of abuse and officer involved shootings. This need comes from the perception of a lack of accountability as the police lack objectivity reviewing their own actions, often letting officers who have overwhelming evidence off to return to patrol.

One of the recent actions that sparked this call for accountability was the shooting of Ala Braziel. In the Braziel case the officers on the scene actually had body cameras, but despite having them, they were not on as the altercation was occurring. The cameras didn’t turn on until Mr. Braziel was dead. The only video captured was from a convenience store across the street, showing Mr. Braziel turning around with his hands in the air before being shot. Due to this and the lack of response from Mayor Turner, the tensions ran high during the comment period, erupting after some callous remarks by the mayor while Mr. Braziel’s widow was in the chambers. The eruption came as many in the coalition of voices demanded accountability.

During the whole testimony, Council Member Kubosh was a voice of support. He clearly stated that he does support both law enforcement and these accountability measures. He made sure to listen carefully and ask thoughtful questions. He gave support as a voice of reason to right regarding the city’s policies.

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