Fresno City Council forms commission to bring police reform to Fresno Police Department

The Commission members will discuss policy recommendations to reform the Fresno Police Department.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's black community has spoken loudly about the need for change and city leaders are taking steps to act on their complaints.

Thousands of people marched peacefully through Fresno to highlight racial injustices and police brutality.

George Floyd's death in Minneapolis prompted the protest, but the Fresno State NAACP organized the March with local reforms in mind and they brought their demands to Fresno's city council Thursday.

"First, we demand Mayor Lee Brand, Mayor-Elect Jerry Dyer, and Police Chief Andy Hall acknowledge the research-backed disparities for what they are and cease explanations based on personal opinion or perspective of said issues," said D'Aungillique Jackson of the NAACP. "This feeds into negative stereotypes and stigmas, specifically those that refer to black and brown people."

They also want to see criminal charges against the officers involved in two incidents where Action News uncovered video - the punching of London Wallace during a gang operation to which Wallace had no connection and the deadly shooting of Isiah Murrietta-Golding, who was killed as he ran away from police.

They also want to restructure the civil service board so it has an unbiased parallel investigation of complaints against police officers and to cancel pensions for officers convicted of brutalizing a civilian.

Former mayor Ashley Swearengin supported the airing of grievances and acknowledged a failure of city leaders to do it earlier.

"I think that we are all missing something if we do not recognize the bigness and the importance of this moment," she said. "I also want to acknowledge that alone is insufficient."

But the racism pointed out by protesters pervaded even the otherwise calm workshop during public comments over Zoom. A man who got in line to speak about the city council workshop blurted out at least a pair of racist expletives before he was cut off.

Council members said the racist interruption hardened their resolve to deal with local problems and make sure the death of George Floyd won't be in vain.

"In that spirit, the mayor along with myself, council members Soria and Chavez, will be launching the Fresno Commission for Police Reform,' said City Council President Miguel Arias.

Former council member and police officer Oliver Baines will head the reform commission, which has support from mayor-elect Jerry Dyer and the Fresno Police Officers' Association.

Who will serve on the commission is still being decided, but its recommendations for reforming the Fresno Police Department are due in 90 days.

Protesters will know then whether their voices were truly heard.
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