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Add comment on:Contentious and Conversational BART Police Review Committee Public Meeting, 4/20/09: audio
BART's ad hoc Police Department Review Committee held a public meeting on April 20th in the BART Board room without having made a public announcement about it. Those invested in participating in the process of BART's creation of a citizens' police review commission found out about the meeting via word of mouth after it was mentioned in a legislative hearing in Sacramento on April 14th. BART board members and staff claimed that notice had been posted to the www.bart.gov website but no one at the meeting said they had been able to find such a notice. [Apparently, BART didn't post notice of the Monday morning meeting until some time Friday.] The meeting began on a contentious note due to the lack of serious public announcement by BART. While it was confrontational throughout, with those in attendance challenging BART Board members and BART staff on their frequent misstatements, defensive posturing, and lack of transparency and progress in establishing true police accountability, the meeting was also conversational much of the time due to the low numbers of the public in attendance and BART's seemingly reluctant acquiescence to many of the repeated common sense demands from the public. Besides the lack of public notice and the historic BART tendency for secrecy and non-involvement of the public, the BART committee, General Manager Dorothy Dugger, and other staff were confronted for their role in stalling movement forward on AB312 in the California Legislature on April 14th. A representative of State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was present to scold the committee for their actions regarding AB312 and to warn them that their vague goal of having civilian police review by the end of the year was unacceptable. Additionally, BART was called out on the private meetings they have held with area ministers and others without full community involvement as well as their generally insensitive lack of consideration for the family of Oscar Grant. BART has a May 2nd public meeting scheduled to present to the public the potential models for the coming BART police review board. It will be held at the Metro Center Auditorium (101 Eighth Street), across the street from the Lake Merritt BART station in Oakland, although the starting time has not yet been determined. There will be a second follow-up public meeting later in May where the public can offer feedback on the various possibilities. Committee members promised to broadly announce these and all future public meetings via prominent placement of notices on their website and through notices in BART stations. Longer-term items discussed included a public BART memorial for Oscar Grant and some form of restitution and outreach for the youth and citizens of Oakland for the trauma the BART murder and subsequent failures of BART have caused the community.
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