Cleveland NAACP asking lawmakers to make 'excessive use of force' a hate crime

NAACP holds memorial service
Cleveland NAACP holds memorial service. (Source: WOIO)
Cleveland NAACP holds memorial service. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland NAACP is calling upon lawmakers to make it a federal hate crime when police are involved in a situation where excessive use of force is used and someone is injured or killed.

"Such a serious penalty is the only way to insure that this scourge of violence against black people who are charged with the protection of the community is halted," said an NAACP press release.

The proposal was mentioned at the end of a memorial service held on the steps of city hall.

One by one memorial goers placed flowers on the steps there. Each carnation, NAACP leaders said, represented the memory of someone killed by police this year.

The Cleveland NAACP led the memorial service to mark the recent killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. The gathering also memorialized 112 other people Cleveland NAACP leaders say were killed by police this year. Sterling, 37, was shot in Baton Rouge after an altercation with police and Castile died after a traffic stop.

Brenda Bickerstaff said she came to the memorial service because her brother was shot and killed by police in 2002.

"When they pull someone over, I understand you have to be in a position to protect yourself. I understand that. But when you approach - I'm not saying you have to be officer nice guy - but approach it with respect. When officers approach people, a lot of times they take on as if someone is guilty is what someone says they have done, and this is where things escalate," said Bickerstaff.

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