Police Reform

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Supporting the Transformation of Local Policing PracticesHow should the Police Department operate in a Human Rights City?
Leading work on this issue is the Alliance for Police Accountability
  • Chicago Human Rights Lawyer Visits Pittsburgh: On March 22-24, 2017, we hosted a visit by national human rights leaders, Stan Willis and Vickie Casanova Willis, longtime human/civil rights activists and leaders in the National Conference of Black Lawyers. The Willises met with organizers and campus leaders and their campus lecture, Using Human Rights Law to Fight Racial Violence and Discrimination,outlined some lessons about work to end discrimination in the criminal punishment system and to advance human rights organizing more generally (View recording here). As part of the U.S. Human Rights Network, Stan has traveled to Geneva to give testimony about U.S. racial inequities at the United Nations. He led a landmark case against a Chicago police officer using the International Convention Against Torture. Vickie is currently president of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and works on youth empowerment and restorative justice in Chicago, and is a leader in the national Human Rights Cities Alliance. She hosts a weekly radio program on the Black Talk Radio Network. (See summary of lessons from dialogue sessions with the Willises)

Holding Police Officers Accountable to Human Rights

Local Initiatives and Resources.
Pittsburgh is part of the Department of Justice's National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice
We'll work to keep allies posted on developments with this initiative, and will work to bring human rights ideas into that discussion.

Demand local police accountability! We wrote this letter as part of Amnesty International's local write-a-thon during Human Rights Days of Action. You can join many other voices in calling for changes in our local police practices by writing to Chief McLay and urging him to follow the recommendations in our Human Rights City Action Plan.

See the open letter to Chief McLay written by Tyrone Scales and Jeff Martin, November 2014. The letter reminds our newly appointed police chief that he is working in a Human Rights City and that we look forward to working with him to figure out what that means for how the department operates on a day-to-day basis.

Police Reform: Background and Resources

Human Rights City Alliance in the Media

Open Letter to Chief McLay in the Gazette and Courier:



The Thomas Merton Center Newpeople November 2014 issue online: