Target: Rochester, New York Police Chief James M. Sheppard
Goal: Drop all disorderly conduct charges against high school students who were just waiting for their bus
Taking advantage of a recent Wednesday off, the Edison Tech High School basketball team was waiting for their coach and a bus to take them to their scrimmage at Aquinas. So when a police officer approached the athletes and asked them to disperse, they explained that they were basketball players, merely waiting for a school bus. The officer responded by placing three of the boys under arrest, forcing their families to post bail of $200 so that they could enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their sons. Their coach, a district guidance counselor, parked his car and walked over to find the officer arresting three of his players and tried to act as a mediator. He said of the incident, “He goes on to say, ‘If you don’t disperse, you’re going to get booked as well. I said, ‘Sir, I’m the adult. I’m their varsity basketball coach. How can you book me? What am I doing wrong? Matter of fact, what are these guys doing wrong?'”
Not only were three innocent young men arrested in front of their peers, the entire team saw their coach blatantly disrespected by the officer and his sergeant, as well as by the other officers who showed up. Jacob Scott, the coach, recalled: “One of the police officers actually told me, if he had a big enough caravan, he would take all of us downtown.” From the officers’ refusal to treat Scott or his players with basic human dignity and respect, their discriminatory and abusive attitudes are clear. These officers abused their power for their own gratification, which should be a disgrace among police, when they arrested and tormented high school children in front of their teammates.
By signing this petition, you are calling on Chief Sheppard to drop all charges against the high school basketball players who are only guilty of being downtown while Black. You are urging Chief Sheppard to refuse to tolerate discriminatory behaviors in his officers, so as not to repeat this tragedy.
Dear Chief James Sheppard,
I am highly disappointed in your officers who arrested and tormented those students from the Edison Tech basketball team. Not only did your officers arrest three boys who were not causing any trouble, they also treated the boys’ coach with appalling disrespect when he attempted to mediate the situation.
I am calling on you to drop all charges against the three boys who were arrested, and issue an apology for the behavior of your officers. I urge you to never tolerate racist or oppressive behaviors in your department.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr