WXXI AM News

Police

Saturday's peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Rochester included hundreds of people who gathered to march in solidarity with the BLM movement nationwide. Local organizers are calling for several reforms: a divestment from police, the removal of police from Rochester City Schools, an end to mass incarceration, and more.

This hour, we talk to two of the organizers about the events of the weekend and their goals for the movement in the weeks and months ahead. Our guests:

  • Stanley Martin, civil rights organizer
  • Ashley Gantt, civil rights organizer
  • Stevie Vargas, civil rights organizer
  • Iman Abid, civil rights organizer

We continue our conversation about the events of the weekend, about the Black Lives Matter movement, and about broader issues of race and police-community relations across the country.

Our guests:

  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office, and lead singer for Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and adjunct professor
  • Anthony Hall, dean at Vertus Charter High School for Young Men, and executive director of BOOKBAGS Express
  • Justin Morris, community activist

The events in American cities over the last several days, including Rochester, have revealed the depth of decades of pain. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says the protests have been important and peaceful, but the looting shows that the community can fall into a trap set by people outside of the movement.

This hour, our guests discuss those issues and more:

  • Danielle Ponder, diversity and inclusion officer for the Monroe County Public Defender's Office, and lead singer for Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People
  • Jonathan Ntheketha, actor, performance educator with Impact Interactive, and adjunct professor
  • Lavelle Lewis, self-employed real estate investor, and volunteer organizer for Rochester's weekend cleanup efforts

The story of a white woman in New York City who called police and falsely accused an African American man of threatening her has gone viral. Amy Cooper was walking her dog in an area of Central Park where leashes are required. Christian Cooper (no relation), an avid bird watcher who was in the park for that purpose, approached her and asked her to leash the dog. When she didn't, the situation escalated and led to the woman calling police and claiming the man was threatening her and her dog. Christian Cooper recorded a video of the incident. When police responded, both people had left and no charges were filed, but the video has been shared widely and sparked discussions of the history of black people being falsely reported to police.

This hour, our guests discuss that history, the impact of the incident in Central Park, and more. Our guests:

With a referendum on the ballot, early voters in Rochester are already weighing in on a proposed police accountability board. The proposed board has caused intense debate within the community. If approved, the civilian-led oversight board would act independently from city government and the Rochester Police Department to investigate complaints of police misconduct.

The Rochester Police Locust Club says the legislation is not legal, despite a recent decision by a panel of state Appellate Division justices to allow the vote.

Our guests debate the proposed board and discuss police-community relations. In studio:

“Torture is an open secret in Chicago. Nobody in power wants to acknowledge this grim reality, but everyone knows it happens—and that the torturers are the police.”

That’s the opening of the summary of a new book called “The Torture Letters” written by Princeton University anthropology professor Laurence Ralph. Ralph is a social scientist who studies police violence and race in the United States.

He’s in Rochester as a guest of the University of Rochester, where he’ll give a lecture Wednesday evening. We talk to him about his research, and about police-community relations in American cities. In studio:

  • Laurence Ralph, professor of anthropology, and director of the Center on Transnational Policing at Princeton University; and author of “Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago,” and “The Torture Letters”

freeimages.com/Elvis Santana

So far this year, at least 158 members of law enforcement have died by suicide in the U.S. 

One group that tracks the statistics says police departments don't always report these deaths.

We sit down with Officer Tiffani Gatson, the first African American woman to join the Greece Police Department. Officer Gatson graduated from the police academy earlier this month. She told the Democrat and Chronicle that her appointment creates a positive image, and it feels surreal to be making history.

She joins us in studio along with Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan to talk about diversifying the police force and the implications a more diverse staff can have on police-community relations. In studio:

  • Officer Tiffani Gatson, Greece Police Department
  • Chief Patrick Phelan, Greece Police Department

The Irondequoit Police Department is working to improve the diversity within its ranks. We discuss the department's efforts and how having more officers of color can impact policing and police-community relations.

In studio:

  • Chief Richard Tantalo, Irondequoit Police Department
  • Patrina Freeman, community advocate, minister, and founder of New Directions Ministries
  • Randy Henderson, president of Henderson Ford, minister at the Church of Love Faith Center, and police chaplain
  • Andrae Evans, community member with the Irondequoit Police Community Advisory Team, and retired U.S. Army Colonel
  • Thomas Brady, co-chair and founder of the Greater Rochester Chapter of Conscious Capitalism

The Irondequoit Police Department will be hosting its Police Community Relations Forum next week. The goal is to build community engagement and identify a two-year strategic plan for the police department using resident input. The forum is one of several hosted by the Greater Rochester Police Community Relations working group over the last two years.

This hour, we preview the Irondequoit forum and discuss 21st century policing. Our guests:

  • Chief Richard Tantalo, Irondequoit Police Department
  • Andrae Evans, member of the planning committee for the Irondequoit Police Community Relations Forum 
  • Rev. Patrina Freeman, member of the planning committee for the Irondequoit Police Community Relations Forum
  • David Seeley, Irondequoit Town Supervisor

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