Two Marches Planned

A Springfield group is planning a march against police brutality. In about a decade, from 2006 to 2017, police brutality lawsuits cost taxpayers in Springfield some $3.9 million. On January 30, 2019, a jury ordered the city to pay another $250,000 to another victim of police brutality. “The march will be in May or early June,” Ellen Graves told the Valley Post in a phone interview on February 4. She works for Arise, a group that has organized well-attended marches in the city in recent years. The group has a web site at www.AriseSpringfield.org.

Tanisha Arena is Arise's director. "Springfield police officers act as though they can do whatever they want without consequence," she said. The below photo of Arena is from Facebook. To enlarge the photo, click on it.

Holly Richardson is a member of the Arise board. She said, “One thing we are calling for that will not fully eradicate police brutality, but will address those police who have numerous complaints of use of force, is to mandate that all police officers carry their own personal liability insurance as a condition of their employment. This would be similar to what doctors have to do in a profession that involves making life or death decisions under stress.... Insurance companies are very skilled at identifying risk, such as in car insurance where companies charge more to risky drivers who have had more accidents and tickets.”

Richardson continued, “The way this could work with police is that if they all had to carry insurance the worst offenders would quickly be identified and they would be charged a higher rate. If they continued down this path, eventually they would be priced out, or become un-insurable and thus unemployable. If people question this, saying that police are doing a risky job that doesn’t pay that well, we could address that by using some of the taxpayer money that is currently being used for (settling police brutality lawsuits) and use it to give them an insurance allowance. When those very high risk police see premiums go up they would pay the difference out of their pocket.”

A white man runs the Springfield police department. In 2014, he was appointed by the mayor, also a white man. Just 17 percent of Springfield residents are white men. Academic studies show that female police officers are better at de-escalating potentially violent situations. Springfield is home to about 155,000 people.

The 2018 edition of a study by a Harvard professor found that, nationally, African American and Latino people are much more likely than white people to be violently attacked by police. The study is at:

www.nber.org/papers/w22399.pdf

Forty-four percent of the people who live in Springfield are Latino; 21 percent are African American.

In other news from the Valley, in Brattleboro, on February 6 at 5 p.m., there will be a march to call on politicians to do more to fight climate change. The march will start at Pliny Park at the corner of Main and High streets. This event is being organized by 350.org. More information is available by calling Abby Mnookin at (802) 444-0350 or e-mailing abby@350vt.org. Bring a sign.

In other news from the Valley, in Amherst and Hadley, 193 acres of farmland will be permanently protected from development if the towns approve a funding request from Kestrel Land Trust. Hadley borders Amherst. Hadley voters will decide at town meeting in May, a Kestrel spokeswoman told the Valley Post.

In related news, in Hatfield, Massachusetts on January 29 townspeople voted to spend money to save 23 acres of farmland. Hatfield borders Northampton. The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space every day.

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