John Crawford (WDTN)

Breaking: John Crawford supporters occupying Beavercreek police station

Group has demands after innocent man slain -- and will stay at station until police chief meets with them (UPDATE)


Sarah Jaffe
October 6, 2014 6:43PM (UTC)

A group of young people affiliated with the Ohio Students Association and the economic and racial justice network Freedom Side are now occupying the police station in Beavercreek, Ohio, demanding that police chief Dennis Evers meet with them in the wake of the killing of John Crawford III by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams. A grand jury failed to indict Williams for the shooting on September 24, and the students, who have been organizing around Crawford's death since August, have moved to escalate.

After the news came down that Williams would not be indicted, organizer Malaya Davis tells Salon, the group sat down to consider next steps and came up with three demands. They want Williams removed from the force, they want to overhaul the police training materials that they blame for Williams and Sgt. David Darkow's aggressive response to Crawford, and, Davis says, “we want to really start a conversation around how we fundamentally shift the power dynamics and relationship between law enforcement and community. Law enforcement ranging from police officers to sheriff to county prosecutor.”

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“An occupation is the way that we're going to try to force these demands to at least be heard and be taken into consideration,” Davis continues.

The organizers held a rally on Friday and spent the weekend meeting in the community, and returned at 8 AM this morning. About ten of them plan on remaining at the station until the chief meets with them—they are demanding a meeting by Wednesday.

Organizer Darsheel Kaur, who grew up in Beavercreek, says that the group has worked hard to make sure their actions make sense in the moment and have a direct purpose. She does note, though, that sometimes it takes outside attention and pressure to make officials act. “As a community organizer it's hard for me, I want to do something with community support but at the same time I think we have to broaden the sense of community in this point,” she says.

At the same time, she is impressed with the amount of support they have gotten. “We've been calling ourselves the Concerned Citizens because there's people from all around, different ages, cultures, backgrounds, races. A lot of people have been supporting us. I think people are ready to start working together in a new way. I think it's a very hopeful situation in terms of community transformation.”

Adds Davis, “People were looking to our leadership to really make sure that justice is being served--and what the community deems is justice, not what the justice system has deemed as justice.”

UPDATE, 10/8/14: On Wednesday, organizers from the Ohio Student Association met with Beavercreek police chief Dennis Evers and presented their demands: that Officer Sean Williams, who shot John Crawford, be fired or disarmed, that Ronald Ritchie, the man who called 911 and complained that Crawford was aiming a gun at Walmart customers, face consequences for his part in the shooting, and that the department would work with the community to overhaul police training and protocols on the use of lethal force.
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The chief refused their demands. The activists engaged in a sit-in outside of the police station, which led police to lock up early. “Police Chief Dennis Evers has decided that he would rather protect own of his own rather than protect us too,” said OSA member Alice Ragland. “It proves that we cannot rely on others to give us what we need, and instead need to build the political power it takes to protect ourselves.”
No arrests occurred and the students were eventually given their belongings back from inside of the station. The students are continuing to plan a statewide convergence for October 18th.

Sarah Jaffe

MORE FROM Sarah Jaffe

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Beavercreek Editor's Picks Guns John Crawford Ohio Police Race Shooting Violence Walmart

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