News Release

“Abusive Cop Picked to Head Police Reform Commission”

MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD, via Sarah Sloan, ss at
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, is quoted in this piece by Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet: “Abusive Cop Picked to Head Police Reform Commission,” which states: “Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, one of two co-chairs apppointed by President Obama to head a commission on ways to demilitarize local police, is known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.’s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for hundreds of citizens attacked by D.C. police.

“‘If the president’s idea of reforming policing practices includes mass false arrests, brutality, and the eviscerating of civil rights, then Ramsey’s his man. That’s Charles Ramsey’s legacy in D.C.,’ said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard … speaking of the ex-D.C. chief and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner. ‘Obama should immediately rescind his appointment of Commissioner Ramsey, who is a mass violator of civil rights and civil liberties.’

“On Monday, Obama appointed Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a George Mason University professor of criminology, law and society, to head a commission that the president said will suggest steps that the executive branch can take to unwind the most visible aspects of America’s militarized police — its domestic use of military gear. …

“More than a decade ago, when Ramsey was the D.C. police chief, he lead numerous crackdowns and mass arrests of protesters — starting in 2000. His most high-profile assault was in September 2002 at Pershing Park, where demonstrators protested World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. The police locked down the park and arrested everyone there — 400 people — including journalists, legal observers and bystanders.

“The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund sued and won millions for protesters. The April 2000 protest settlements totalled $13.7 million and Pershing Park/2002 settlement was $8.25 million. Verheyden-Hilliard said the settlements highlight a larger and especially bloody pattern of police crackdowns on protesters ordered by Ramsey. She listed the following six events in an e-mail that ‘are demonstrative of his leadership and the force under his command.’ The first example is an earlier three-day World Bank/IMF protest from spring 2000 in downtown Washington. …”

EDDIE BECKER, eddie_becker at
Becker is an independent D.C.-based filmmaker. He said today: “Ramsey’s style is to provide lip service to the law, while allowing bad cops to ‘take care of business’ as they see fit. After abuse is uncovered, Ramsey acts shocked and declares a thorough investigation that drags on and does not get to the root cause of much of the underlying problem. Which is basically let bad cops ‘take care of business’ as they see fit.

“1) In Chicago, before coming to D.C., Ramsey was deputy police superintendent during a period where his direct supervisor, Superintendent Leroy Martin, was actively covering up findings of ‘systematic’ police torture. We’re talking about the coverup of major torture and forced confessions that sent many innocents to jail.

“2) In D.C., Chief Ramsey militarized the D.C. police and used it to violate the rights of peaceful protesters then oversaw a disinformation campaign and massive cover-up, inventing evidence, and when that failed, false testimony, and the disappearance of police records.

“3) After Ramsey’s termination from D.C., he became Police Chief in Philadelphia. Now the Philadelphia police is being sued for using force to stop citizens from filming the police. Civil rights lawsuits against the Philly police have steadily risen under Ramsey. The Police Department has a questionable track record of disciplining troublesome cops. A Philadelphia Daily News review of dozens of high-dollar settlements paid in recent years shows that most involve officers who flout police policies or have racked up piles of citizen complaints of misconduct.”

See: “Philadelphia police sued by ACLU, which says filming led to arrests.”

From “Civil-rights lawsuits against police spiked in 2013.”

From 2004: “Report on Investigation of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Policy and Practice in Handling Demonstrations in the District of Columbia.”