Police accountability project defends resident's right to document abuse

Police accountability project defends resident's right to document abuse
Tara Thompson, '03
Law School Office of Communications
January 1, 2003

One of the Police Accountability Project's first activities was to help launch the Stateway Civil Rights Project. A collaboration with resident leadership at the Stateway Gardens housing project on South State Street, the Civil Rights Project works toward better relations between police and the community. Its activities include monitoring and reporting police misconduct within Stateway Gardens.

On March 19, 2001, twenty-five-year-old Kenya Richmond, who had trained with the Civil Rights Project in documenting police transgressions, came upon a scene at Stateway Gardens. A police chase had ended with a police cruiser running up on a sidewalk and hitting a teenage pedestrian, whom officers were taking into custody. Richmond requested that the officers take the teen to the hospital, and began to write down details of the incident, including identifying information about the officers.

The police arrested Richmond, confiscated and destroyed his notes, and took him to the station. Along the way, they directed racial epithets at him and mocked his efforts to exercise his First Amendment rights. The officers falsely charged Richmond with directing narcotics traffic, and Richmond spent several hours in police custody--missing his daughter's eighth birthday party--before he was finally released.