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Protests over recent Boston Police shootings continue

For the second time in as many weeks, the Black Community Information Center, led by Sadiki Kambon, held a press conference yesterday protesting the actions of the Boston Police Department.

The conference took place on the same corner where a Boston police sergeant shot a Roxbury man Monday night.

Police Sgt. Detective Daniel Keeler reportedly saw John K. Powell crash into a parked car and attempt to flee by carjacking another. Police assert it was at that point Powell drew a gun and fired one shot.

Keeler then reportedly returned fire, hitting Powell although not killing him. Powell is currently listed in critical condition and is guarded. The incident is still under investigation.

Eyewitnesses said they saw differently, according to Jamal Crawford of the Boston Chapter of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, who spoke at the press conference.

“No one saw that young man fire a shot,” Crawford said.

Chuck Turner, a Boston African-American community leader, suggested several ways this conflict can be resolved.

“Ideally we want change in police procedure,” Turner said. “Civilian involvement in this issue is essential.”

Placing citizens on the BPD review board would help solve much of the problem because citizens are “impartial and more curious,” he elaborated.

Turner and the BCIC are scheduled to meet with the Boston United States Attorney on Tuesday, he said. At the meeting, the BCIC will ask that cases in which police were accused of accidental shooting deaths, totaling eight in the past 22 months, be investigated.

He and the BCIC also want the attorney’s office to look into current police procedure in place to see if it can be reformed to prevent such deaths in the future, and also to determine if the civil rights of the victims were violated.

Turner heavily emphasized the importance of changing the current police protocol. Following the death of Eveline Barros-Cepeda, who was shot by police Sept. 9, Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans announced a new proposal to change police procedure so police officers would be forbidden to fire at moving cars unless fired upon.

The Boston Police Union, in response to this proposal, authorized Boston police officers to vote “no-confidence” in Evans. This vote could mean the resignation of the commissioner.

Turner said he believed the new protocol would be useful in helping solve some of the current problems. Turner observed, however, Evans “doesn’t have the power to change protocol without union support.”

According to the Union’s contract, changes in procedure such as this must be ratified by the union.

Sadiki Kambon, director of the BCIC, said he feels Mayor Thomas Menino is crucial to helping solve the problem, but Menino “shows no leadership.”

Citizens should put more pressure on Menino to be more active in the investigations of these shootings, because right now he is “getting a free ride,” Kambon said.

Crawford said he still feels pessimistic about the resolution of these conflicts.

“We’re expecting to get a pear from an apple tree,” he said. “In the end, the police will get the slap on the wrist, and the community will get the bullet in the back.”

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