Toledo Police Chief Orders Halt To Random Stops Of Black Teens
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ Civil rights leaders claimed victory but said they would press a $1 million lawsuit against the city even though the police chief rescinded an order to randomly stop black teen-agers in a mixed neighborhood.
Police Chief Martin Felker withdrew the order Monday after separate meetings with City Manager Philip Hawkey; LeRoy Williams, president of the Toledo chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and residents of the Old West End neighborhood.
″The procedure was implemented to address a series of crimes that had been committed,″ Felker said. ″Unfortunately, the focus of the directive has been perceived as racially motivated instead of the intent of focusing on the suspects involved.″
The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and other opponents of the policy said Monday that they considered Felker’s latest action a triumph.
″We put the pressure on the city because it was a patently racist order, an insult to blacks,″ said the Rev. Floyd Rose, pastor of the Family Baptist Church and a member of the alliance. ″It was another example of the city’s insensitivity to the black community. We fought back and will continue to fight.″
Lafayette Tolliver, vice president of the Thurgood Marshall Law Association, a group of black lawyers, said the association was still pursuing the suit filed last week because of the police policy.
U.S. District Judge John Potter on Monday rejected the association’s request for a temporary restraining order after talking to Felker and learning he had rescinded his directive.
″I think we won,″ Tolliver said. ″We are satisfied as far as the temporary restraining order is concerned because now it is not necessary.
″The suit will continue, and we expect more plaintiffs to join us.″
Blacks make up about 17 percent of the city’s population of 340,000.
The association sued Friday on behalf of Walter Wade Jr., a black teen-ager who was followed and then stopped by police in front of his house last week. Wade, 19, was questioned but not charged with any offense, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said the policy violated civil rights laws and the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of association and protection against unlawful search and seizure.
Wade’s lawyers are seeking $1 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
On July 8, Felker issued the order for police to stop and question groups of black teen-agers in an attempt to end racial violence in the Old West End.
Later last month, the ministerial alliance, which includes ministers from a variety of church congregations in Toledo, asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate what the ministers called a conspiracy against black officials in Ohio’s fourth-largest city.
Two Justice Department representatives met once with city officials and once with ministers to try to mediate a solution. No action resulted.
The alliance also has been threatening to boycott businesses that do not hire and promote blacks as a way of ending what it calls economic injustice in the city.