Several organizations, including Fresno Black Lives Matter, the Brown Berets and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, gathered Tuesday outside Fresno Police Department headquarters on the Mariposa Mall to demand that the agency change policing policies to emphasize de-escalation of violent confrontations and avoid officer-involved shootings.
“We’re asking — and now demanding — police officers to restrain from shooting,” said Rafael Avitia of the Brown Berets. “Call a negotiator … call a mental health expert. No matter how long it takes, no matter how much it costs.”
The organizers presented a list of demands, including:
— That officers involved in shootings undergo drug testing within 24 hours of the incident.
— That the officers be placed on administrative leave instead of paid leave.
— That the Office of Independent Review, which oversees police conduct, be granted subpoena power and that the head of the office have a fulltime job and live in the city.
“We’re asking the Fresno Police Department to become a beacon of change,” said Roger Brown of Black Lives Matter.
“When we talk about ‘all lives matter,’ let’s make that matter.”
Said Roger Centeno, whose brother Freddy Centeno was shot by police in September of 2015: “All this needs to stop.”
Paraphrasing a sometimes-heard police explanation that an officer fired on a suspect because the officer “feared for his life,” Centeno said: “Find another job. This has to stop.”
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