Black Lives Matter Camping Out In DeKalb Ahead Of Robert Olsen Grand Jury

Nelini Stamp and Rise Up GeorgiaTonight, Rise Up Georgia and Black Lives Matter activists will begin camping out at the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur, awaiting the decision of a grand jury looking into the police shooting of Anthony Hill last year.

It’ll be 19 degrees tonight on the courthouse steps, with a high of 41 on Tuesday. It will be raining most of the week. It will be uncomfortable. It will look uncomfortable. In a sense, it’s the antithesis of hashtag activism.

I first heard about this protest at a talk by activist Shaun King at Agnes Scott College last week. King, a former class president at Morehouse who now writes for the New York Daily News as a justice columnist, grew to prominence chronicling one high profile police shooting after another through social media last year.

He’s questioning that, now.

“I operated under the impression that if I made the injustice known, that justice would be done,” he said. “And I was wrong. … It’s not good enough. I thought it would do a lot more than it has done.”

The frankness of that admission startled me. But so do the numbers.  

The Guardian’s meticulous count of deaths attributed to police last year topped out at 1134.  A disproportionate number of those deaths were of young black men, even accounting for higher crime rates in the black population.

“Despite making up only 2% of the total US population, African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15% of all deaths logged this year by an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police,” according to The Guardian’s count. “Their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age.”

The Washington Post’s coverage of police shootings last near noted that about a quarter of all police-involved deaths had some connection to a mental health crisis, just like that of Anthony Hill’s shooting death.

DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen killed Air Force veteran Anthony Hill in March. Hill was having a bipolar mental health episode, and had disrobed, running around naked — and unarmed — in an apartment complex. Olsen killed Hill two minutes after responding to the 911 call.

No police officer involved in a fatal shooting last year has been convicted of a crime yet, King noted.

While activists want Olsen held accountable for Hill’s death, they’re also looking for systemic changes to police responses, said Nelini Stamp, an organizer with Rise Up Georgia. The movement wants this demonstration to be the start of a long-term conversation that ends with changes to how DeKalb County police respond to mental health crisis, she said.

“Mobile crisis units are not enough,” she said. “Our immediate goal is to put pressure on the DA for an indictment, and we want to say that there’s a bigger fight that people can participate in.” 

She is working to present a draft ordinance to the county, requiring crisis intervention training for police and a shift of resources away from jail and into treatment of mental health disorders.

“Las Vegas and San Antonio have models that work,” she said. “Police don’t want to be in this position.” 

36
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
10 Comment threads
26 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
9 Comment authors
TheManUndertheBridgeGeorge ChidiSaltycrackerJeanAndrew C. Pope Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Will Durant
Will Durant

Freezing your ass off will likely not accomplish much. Mr. King should understand that this issue is a blue one, not just black. Even an acquaintance of mine who is with the GBI would be in favor of a law requiring another county’s DA and/or Grand Jury reviewing police shootings. Preferably with at least a two-county geographic separation. The DA who must work with his or her own county police force daily cannot logically be considered to be impartial. Put to the legislature correctly this shouldn’t even be a partisan issue, certainly not a racial one.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

“The DA who must work with his or her own county police force daily cannot logically be considered to be impartial.”

And it explains in part why legislation changing the status quo will get tepid if any support from many DAs.

gcp
gcp

In the first 13 days of 2016 there were at least eight shootings in Dekalb including a young woman murdered at a bus stop and a man murdered when he walked in on a home invasion. None of these shootings were done by the police.

In 2015 Atlanta had the highest number of murders in seven years. A couple days ago a pregnant 15 year old was shot at a MARTA station.

Strangely, the only folks that talk about these acts of violence are the police and family members of the victims.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I’m not getting your point.

I think it’s totally possible to recognize that there are way too many gun deaths while also recognizing that people should not be shot and killed by folks sworn to keep us all safe.

gcp
gcp

My point is that this case gets an inordinate amount of attention while the daily nonpolice shootings get little attention.

These groups camp out at the courthouse and their main objective is to pressure grand jurors. Is this how justice operates, by pressuring grand jurors to return an indictment?

You may want to also research Black Lives Matter. This group has advocated killing police, has disrupted businesses and has made many inaccurate statements.

Mike
Mike

@gcp. As a society we recognize that bad things happen. Murders occur at far too high of a rate. We know that – and to a certain degree have become numb to it. These are done by bad people for whatever their reasons, but they don’t have institutional defenders. We don’t accept it, but we recognize it. It’s on the news every night. What is shocking and disturbing is that the people who are supposed to be looking over us, out for us, are too often committing the very same acts. Is this a new phenomenon? No. There has been… Read more »

gcp
gcp

“But shouldn’t we want to remove the bad ones” Of course, but justice will occur inside the courthouse by a group of grand jurors and possibly a jury, not from a mob outside whose main objective is to “pressure” the DA and the jurors.

Mike
Mike

Ahhhh, the old “sit down, be quiet, and let justice run its course” gambit. Do you see the flaw here? That works out ok when you control the justice. But you’re asking the system to indict itself. Many of the individuals responsible for said justice are part of the unjust system (consciously and subconsciously). The protesters don’t believe that they’re being heard by the system. Years of patient complaints and cries have systematically fallen on deaf ears. The system has failed them for years. Police Departments and DA’s across the nation have given them reason to be skeptical. I don’t… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

It is an ugly spiral down. Yes we need to address mental issues better, don’t know why the naked bi-polar was charging a cop and wasn’t tasered or sprayed as said available, but the more usual situation is a thug refusing to respond to a cop who knows he/she is in more danger than ever in their career. The best step now is to encourage every attempt to be a law abiding citizen and if so be given the benefit of the doubt in court. The activistists need a bit of community responsibility. And thug cops need to be drummed… Read more »

Jean
Jean

I think that all police shootings should be investigated by the GBI and decisions about prosecution (and prosecution itself should it be appropriate) should be made by someone who isn’t part of the local DA office. Regardless of whether there is actual bias locally, there is a perception of bias right now that we need to work to fix. I know that several jurisdictions have established policy to involve the GBI but I think it should be enforced at the state level. I don’t know enough about the DA side but it seems like adding a group to do the… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

I’m good with that and if, meanwhile, a mob burns and loots your home or business I expect our safety folks shoot the looters.

Jean
Jean

One other thing I think that would benefit is to have each situation analyzed to determine what could have been done better. It may be that a particular situation is considered “justified” but there might be something that would make future similar situations less likely to occur. (For example, what was done that triggered Gwinnett police to ask for weapon lights in the new budget?)

The key is to have the analysis done by a group that is non partial and that is perceived as being non partial by both police and the community.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

George,

Didn’t say anything about looters killing, it was looters looting.

For stats the FBI reports are always interesting and, hopefully, closer to neutral territory in debate:

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-offense

Enjoy

TheManUndertheBridge
TheManUndertheBridge

Training.

Training.

Training.

Non-lethal force and training for safely handling cases of acute mental disorder. Contain the man and wait for specialists to come. Heck, anything but what happened – And we were not there. Adrenaline, fear, and self preservation. So hard to see these folks in the cold – Right or wrong, they showed up.

I would like to HOPE that the Officer would have shot a white guy who was acting out in a threatening manner, in the same circumstance – Which would have been equally awful.

Two lives affected; one gone, one shattered.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

It’s bad that some shootings occur when a good cop makes a bad mistake. It’s a circumstance that makes criminality a hard line to establish.

(Some stand your ground gun enthusiasts think they should be entitled to make the same mistakes some police make—there should be a different standard for public and police in avoiding situations.)

There’s certainly room for improvement in investigating and reporting police shootings, and accountability. Meanwhile black men continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of deficiencies.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

I’ll go with George and accept that the FBI stats are flawed and improperly reported but does he think table 43 is so messed up to not identify a hint why there is a disproportion of police deficiencies to population before even considering the reaction due to incitful leaders:
(Deficiencies are still not acceptable):

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/table-43

gcp
gcp

I guess if folks don’t believe FBI crime stats maybe they should just watch the nightly news.

As for police shootings, yes we may not have complete data, but once again, watch the news. We see relatively few police shootings and few of these shootings are bad shootings.

Improve pd training, supervision, selection for some departments but let’s keep the problem of “bad police” in proper perspective.

TheManUndertheBridge
TheManUndertheBridge

No winners here:

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/dekalb-officer-xyxyx-shooting-naked-man/np9B5/

As to shouts of joy, “All six counts,” I repeat, no winners here….