Ministers Condemn New Police Policy Of Random Stops For Black Teens
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A group of black ministers said Wednesday it has called on the American Civil Liberties Union to fight a new police policy of randomly stopping and questioning black teen-agers.
The policy was instituted by Chief Marti Felker last month in an attempt to stop racial violence in the Old West End, a racially mixed neighborhood.
″We consider the police chief’s directive at the very least insensitive and provacative and at the very most racist and unconstitutional,″ said the Rev. Floyd Rose, pastor of the Family Baptist Church.
″It is for this very reason that we have requested that the ACLU file suit in federal court to enjoin the mayor, the city manager and the police chief from enforcing what we consider an unconstitutional directive,″ he said Wednesday at a news conference.
Harland Britz, general counsel for the ACLU’s Toledo office, said the policy appears to violate constitutional protections against illegal search and seizure. He said the ACLU would look into the matter.
City Manager Philip Hawkey declined comment until he had a chance to review the policy.
The ministers planned to meet with Felker to discuss the issue. Rose, who also is director of the Coalition for Economic Justice, said the ministers want the chief to rescind the order.
Felker, in a July 8 letter to leaders of the Old West End Association, said he instructed Deputy Chief Richard Kwiatkowski to ″pay special attention to groups of black juveniles″ in the neighborhood.
″Officers are to stop and identify these youths so that in the event an occurrence does take place, investigators will have the names of the juveniles to work on,″ Felker said.
His order resulted from complaints by Old West End residents, who recorded three violent incidents involving black youths.
Felker has defended his action, saying it was used two years ago to stop whites from harassing blacks on the city’s south end. Civil rights leaders said while police watched white teen-agers in 1986, they never stopped them.
The Interdominational Ministerial Alliance, which includes ministers from a variety of church congregations here, has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate claims of a conspiracy against black officials in Toledo.
They claim that local media and officials have conspired to treat blacks differently than whites - most notably, by firing one city employee and disciplining two others for alleged mismanagement of a city housing program.
About 17 percent of the city’s 340,000 residents are black.