At a Feb. 8 rally held on Hoyt Street, community members demanded answers regarding the death of Wardel Davis.
For Immediate Release
February 8, 2017
This morning, the “City of Good Neighbors” awakened to the disturbing news that one of our fellow citizens lost his life after an encounter with the Buffalo Police Department on Hoyt Street. Concerned people of Buffalo demand and deserve a swift and painstakingly transparent inquiry into this man’s death.
While Buffalo Police Benevolent Association jumps into action to defend their member officers, it is up to public servants in City Hall, Erie County, and New York state to defend the justice to which every person is entitled. Thousands of Buffalonians, and millions around the world, are watching.
“Despite the best efforts recognize the issues with Police in Buffalo, our elected leaders have continued to deny there is a problem when we have clear evidence that there is a crisis,” said John Washington, a community leader who works for PUSH Buffalo.
Every premature loss of life in Buffalo is tragic. When one happens on our streets, it rocks our families and neighborhoods. When it occurs at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve us — as early facts in this case indicate — it devastates public trust in a critical arm of civil society. A 2016 community policing survey and report published by Open Buffalo partners found that only 43 percent of residents believe that the police work well in their neighborhood, while 49 percent think that the police do not respect young people, and 56 percent state that the police do not respect people of color. Against national and local backdrops of division and distrust, events like this serve to make relations between community and police even more volatile.
“The story that we are being told by authorities is that there is no police problem or lack of training in Buffalo,” said Acour Dour, a member of the Justice and Opportunity Coalition. “This is a complete contrast of what we see today, and it makes me fear for my life.”
“It’s unacceptable that we should have to endure this kind of treatment,” said Karima Amin, founder and director of Prisoners Are People Too. “It’s happening everywhere, and tomorrow it could happen to you.”
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this tragedy underscores the need for the immediate revival of Buffalo’s Commission on Citizens’ Rights and Community Relations. It is entirely unacceptable that this body, whose mandate includes providing civilians oversight over cases of alleged police misconduct, currently has several unfilled civilian positions and is not effectively serving the community.
“A young man’s life was taken with no explanation, and our community demands answers and accountability,” said Washington.
For media inquiries, please contact Max Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.