For Immediate Release
May 13, 2020
Contact: Max Anderson
(716) 243-8777 x 103
BUFFALO – In a heartbeat, years of hard work at mending the historically frayed relationship between the Buffalo Police Department and communities of color in our city can unravel.
Open Buffalo joins the family of Quentin Suttles and community partners in expressing our outrage at the vicious acts of two BPD officers who were caught on camera severely beating Suttles last weekend as he lay prone in the street. We also join the voices calling for the immediate suspension of the involved officers, an open investigation, and swift policy change from the BPD.
“For the last few years, we have been told that Buffalo isn’t Baltimore or Ferguson, that Buffalo is leading the nation with community policing efforts,” said Franchelle Parker, Executive Director of Open Buffalo. “However, we are still seeing local officers on camera doing horrific acts of brutality on poor people and people of color.”
Suttles’ family, residents of Buffalo, and all people of good conscience deserve a thorough and transparent investigation of this incident, which reportedly left him with a broken collar bone, eye socket, and arm. The responsibility to investigate this incident must not be relegated solely to BPD’s internal affairs department. In hopes of restoring public trust in those wearing the badge — who are given ultimate authority in the streets — the Buffalo Common Council and Erie County District Attorney’s Office must have overarching authority in investigating this incident.
“This reaffirms Open Buffalo’s longstanding call for mandatory de-escalation training for all officers, proper diversity and cultural competence training, and ensuring officers have the ability to communicate with the communities they intend to serve and protect,” Parker added.
“While some details remain unknown, these officers looked like they were going a lot harder than they needed to, even putting Suttles in a chokehold,” said Todd Timmons, Open Buffalo’s Youth Engagement Coordinator. “This incident is a reminder that much of our city’s police force doesn’t know the people under their patrol or how to effectively communicate with them to avoid conflict.”
As a nation, we have already been hurting amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, with the pain being felt even more acutely among African-American communities in Buffalo. And in the last week, black people across America have collectively grieved the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, as well as the refusal of local law enforcement there to quickly arrest the white father and son who admitted to hunting and gunning him down.
Video of Suttles, a black Buffalonian, being punched and manhandled by two white policemen sends exactly the wrong message at the worst possible moment. Our community demands answers and accountability if we are to ever truly come together.
Additionally, Open Buffalo endorses the Buffalo Police Advisory Board’s five recommended reforms to BPD’s use of force policy, listed below:
- Require de-escalation prior to use of force,
- Require a warning before shooting,
- Require another present officer to intervene,
- Mandate a comprehensive report of other police officers’ actions or arrests that included use of force and,
- Ban chokeholds or strangle holds.
About Open Buffalo
Our mission is to advance racial, economic, and ecological justice. We do so through skill building, network connecting, and activating leadership opportunities. Our goal is for all communities in Western New York to thrive free from discrimination and poverty.