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1997-04-28

First National Conference on Police Brutality in US

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Civil rights groups this weekend held the first national conference on police brutality organized by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and cosponsored by groups ranging from Amnesty International to the United Church of Christ.

The meeting looked at ways to stem police misconduct and promote increased community control over the police. The conference also sought to develop strategies to fight police brutality. Growing numbers of police departments across the country have developed youth initiatives such as a program in Atlanta where a young person could be arrested for driving twice through the same area in a two hour period. Also discussed were the roles of civilian review boards in investigating police misconduct. The conclusion reached was that most of these boards were not given the investigative powers and political independence needed to be effective. Also said was that there is a small percentage of officers committing the majority of the acts of police violence. Conference organizers say that they will come up with a formal action plan in the next few weeks. However they have already committed to seek regional congressional hearings on police brutality and to formalize a network of activists from around the country.

Soundbites:
- Margarita Rosario, head of the New York-based Parents Against Police Brutality
- Nathaniel Livingston Jr. is an activist with the Cincinnati Push Rainbow Coalition and the Cincinnati Black Marchers
- Danielle Straws, Copwatch, a Berkeley, California
- Ri Tso Yan, Asian Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Hector Soto, former head of the Civilian Complaint Review Board in New York City
- Michael Deutsch, former legal director for the Center of Constitutional Rights

Reporter:
- Jose Santiago, news director of WBAI

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