Bangor police joined the local branch of a national civil rights organization Monday in condemning the actions of four Minneapolis police officers that led to the death of George Floyd a week ago.
Chief Mark Hathaway joined the president of the Greater Bangor Area Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Michael Alpert, in releasing a statement against what they called the “horrific actions” of the Minneapolis police officers that led to Floyd’s death.
The letter was released Monday, hours before a rally organized by Racial Equity and Justice, a local social justice group, was set to be held near Bangor City Hall. The protest is one of many that have taken place or are planned across Maine.
Across the country, police officers have joined protesters in condemning the Minneapolis police officers’ actions. Some have joined marches and kneeled with demonstrators in protest. In Rockland on Monday, Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll and Rockland police Chief Chris Young knelt with protesters during a demonstration that attracted about 200 people.
“While the shocking actions of these police officers do not reflect the actions of all police officers nationwide, their actions erode the trust and confidence that all neighborhoods must place in their police departments,” the letter said. “We know that the Bangor Police Department must build, improve, and sustain community trust through greater transparency and approachability, continued training, and consistent professional conduct.”
Hathaway and Alpert acknowledged that protests across the country sparked by the police brutality have raised legitimate concerns regarding police officers’ use of force, bias in policing, and police accountability.
All four Minneapolis officers present at the time of Floyd’s death have been fired. The officer who was seen in videos kneeling on the African-American man’s neck for nearly nine minutes, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
More than a 1,000 people have died nationwide at the hands of police officers every year since 2013, according to a national database.
In 2016, the Bangor Police Department and the local NAACP collaborated on developing a police department policy titled “Unbiased Policing” to ensure the equitable treatment of all people who engage with police officers.
“Simply put — biased policing is not permitted. Period.” Hathaway and Alpert wrote in the letter about the policy.
“The Greater Bangor Area Branch NAACP and the Bangor Police Department are committed to the goal of social justice: all individuals in our community must have equal rights without discrimination based on race,” Hathaway and Alpert wrote.