OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE (November 15, 2018, Richmond, VA):
RPD Chief Durham to retire, reflecting on the leaked conversation between Durham and Mayor Stoney’s Press Secretary Jim Nolan
On November 13, a brave woman named Trina Louis stood in front of Richmond’s City Council and shared some extremely insensitive, threatening, and unprofessional comments overheard from Jim Nolan, Press Secretary for Mayor Levar Stoney. According to Louis, the Press Secretary made the following comments to RPD Chief Alfred Durham on October 12, 2018, a day before the National March for Justice and Reformation: “You know they are having a protest tomorrow”...”I am so disgusted by these people”...”It is time for them to go away”...”They are just looking for a reason to sue”. While it is shameful that Jim Nolan would make such comments about his constituency and the family of Marcus-David Peters, we are not surprised. For several months, the people of Richmond and family of Marcus-David Peters have been facing lack of transparency and urgency from Richmond’s Mayor, City Council, Police Department and Commonwealth Attorney as the People demand Justice and Reformation.
If this is the way Richmond’s Press Secretary and Police Chief speak “behind closed doors”, who knows what else is being said? “Time for them to go away” rings as a threat to many, and we know the violent history of police departments with those community members who rise up and demand an end to the epidemic of unarmed Black people being murdered by police officers in the United States. The people will not back down in the face of this threat. We will continue to go forward fighting for Justice and Reformation until our demands are met.
Richmond’s local government gives indication that there is a disconnect between the officials who “represent” Richmond and actual Richmond community members. Before Trina Louis came forward to City Council, the council spent several minutes honoring the Richmond Police Department, boasting about the many phone calls and personal relationships formed between City Council and RPD. After Louis spoke and applause broke out, City Council president Chris Hilbert threatened to take council into recess. It is obvious why City Council has been silent when it comes to anything regarding Marcus-David Peters - because of their interconnectedness with the RPD and Mayor Stoney. Richmond officials, your silence is violence, and we will remember that silence at the polls in 2020.
Before Chief Durham suddenly announced his retirement, Stoney met with the coalition on August 10, 2018 and reiterated his promise that was announced during his community office hours: That the city would hold a community meeting addressing the unjust killing of Marcus-David Peters, police policies, procedures, and accountability. Durham and Stoney, what happened? We have been waiting months for this meeting. Is putting off this community meeting reflective of Jim Nolan’s statement “It is time to make these people go away”?
Regarding Durham’s retirement, the Justice and Reformation coalition looks forward to the position being filled by a leader who is accountable, and understands the complex realities of systemic racism and the many implicit biases that affect Richmond citizens daily. We look to the incoming RPD Chief to willingly release critical data on policing in our communities and waive all fees associated with gathering that data. This gesture of transparency will begin to build stronger relationships with the community and RPD as we can see exactly how our communities are being policed. Ideally, the future RPD Chief will implement policies and procedures for documenting and reporting all police encounters to the community.
Our demands include the creation of a civilian review board with subpoena power and a Marcus alert. The Marcus Alert will call on mental health professionals to be the first responders to possible or confirmed mental health crises. These are all initiatives that Richmond’s next police chief can take on within the department to that the needs and concerns of the community are a priority. It is our duty as citizens to continue to call out our local officials and hold them accountable for addressing community concerns. When our elected officials refuse to put the needs and concerns of the community first, We The People have a lot of power, and we will flex our power by voting them out and replacing them with true leaders and advocates for the people. Richmond officials, your silence is violence, and we will remember that silence at the polls in 2020.
The Justice and Reformation movement has been fueled by brave people like Trina Louis, who thought about her son after seeing an unarmed Black man experiencing a mental health crisis being killed by those claiming to “protect and serve”, and knew she had to resist. There is incredible strength and opportunity to build solidarity among us in Richmond, and we must continue to channel that energy into collective power. We encourage anyone who has been silent on the death of Marcus-David Peters, the numerous other lives claimed by police violence, and the negative stigma and treatment of those experiencing mental health crises to now step up and take a stand with us. While we face adversities from our local officials, we know that We The People have a lot of power. It is time we start flexing our power to protect our fellow community members. Our lives depend on it.