By STEFANIA ROUSSELLE
BART’s efforts to get a “top to bottom” review of its police force in the aftermath of the New Year’s Eve shooting of Oscar Grant, fell flat Monday night as few San Francisco residents showed up to speak at the Mission Cultural Center .
The meeting, one of two an outside company has scheduled for community input, was primarily attended by members of the Nation of Islam and other organizations. Another meeting will be held tonight at the BART boardroom at the Kaiser Center, 344 20th Street in Oakland—three blocks east of 19th Street Bart Station.
“Where is the community?” asked a member of the Nation of Islam at the Mission District last night. “No one knew about it.”
BART hired the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), which includes former police chiefs, to do the review of the BART Police Department after officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s eve.
BART is paying NOBLE $127,688 for the review.
Patrick Oliver from NOBLE insisted they had sent notices to all, but when the check list of participants made the rounds, only one person, Lisa Rodelo, signed on as a community participant.
Others there included Julian Hill, head of the Officers for Justice (OFJ) , Cameron Sturdevan from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and, Quintin Mecke, communication director for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (13th district).
The dozen or so well-dressed representatives from the Nation of Islam dominated the meeting. “Your hiring is PR. You were black before you were blue,” one of them said scolding the NOBLE representatives. “As a black law enforcement organization, you have a duty. What we want to hear is the NOBLE concern, not the BART, cause you look like one of their representatives.”
Each in turn blamed NOBLE for failing to step up and do its own investigation.
The Nation of Islam and others offered dozens of recommendations: disarm BART officers, give recruits mental evaluations, and train them to stop harassing youth.
Rodelo, the lone community member, went up on stage, looked at her feet, put her hair back behind her ears and then asked NOBLE to tell BART to stop using tasers.
Also, Cynthia Lee, a retired physician, would like to have future recruits tested for a central auditory processing disorder. The “disorder” means that a sound impacts how information is processed and consequently, according to Lee, could make the agent “short of patience”.
At the end of the meeting NOBLE officials at first declined to comment but, Robert Stewart finally relented. “I wish there would have been a larger crowd. Was it a lack of communication? I am not sure.”
NOBLE is also looking for 16 volunteers to take part July 11th in a six-hour problem solving meeting on BART police department’s problems and solutions.