By Justin Hicks | WVPE 88.1 FM (NPR) Elkhart/Michiana
March 7, 2020
Local faith leaders marched in South Bend on Saturday to demand that a disciplinary policy for police officers be adopted within the next 60 days.
It comes a day after a special prosecutor announced the state won’t file charges against a white police officer who fatally shot a black man last June.
With singing and praying at a church in downtown South Bend, faith leaders outlined their plan to hold Mayor James Mueller to his campaign promises. Those include implementing a police discipline matrix, giving de-escalation training to officers, and launching a Peacemaker Fellowship.
The South Bend Board of Public Safety recently tabled the discipline matrix claiming it needed more time to review it and get public input.
Pastor J.B. Williams helped organize the event. He says increasing police accountability isn’t just a social justice issue – it’s an economic issue as well.
“Potential businesses that are looking to come into this city will also be concerned about some decisions that were just made,” he says.
After several speeches and prayers, the group marched to the site of the shooting of Eric Logan then on to the County-City Building.
Tina Velthuizen is a retired Episocopal priest who marched with the group on Saturday. She believes every violent death is a tragedy and came to seek God’s mercy for the community.
“I believe police accountability is a very important thing, yes,” she says. “I’m 100 percent in favor of that but no, that isn’t the main thing that brought me out.”
Dion Payne-Miller is a student at John Adams High School. He marched to advocate for the South Bend Police Department to adopt the officer discipline policy.
“I think it’s very important because it affects me. It affects me being a young African-American man,” he says. “And just knowing the history of what African-Americans have had to endure and are still going through.”
Photo: March in South Bend Saturday, March 7, 2020, following a special prosecutor’s announcement not to charge the white SBPD officer who shot and killed Eric Logan. CREDIT JUSTIN HICKS/WVPE