Lancaster City officials announce policing changes

Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The rain came down heavy in Lancaster on Friday night, washing away certain policies that protesters and city officials agree no longer serve the city’s police department.

Some of the major changes include banning the use of choke holds, mandatory intervention for officers on the scene of a situation that has a potential for injury and yearly crisis intervention training.

“W have inhereted like such a pain and such a legacy of trauma, but also a legacy of fighting for justice,” said Pilisa Mackey, a Lancaster protester.

That latter legacy was displayed front and center Friday as Mayor Danene Sorace explained changes the city will see moving forward.

“Space for change has been made. This space has been carved out in the midst of all of you who came out to protest,” Sorace said.

Protests led to policy changes, like the requirement for city council to be notified about any disciplinary actions taken against officers — including terminations — and changes to the way excessive force is reported.

“Requiring comprehensive reporting each and every time an officer uses force or threatens to do so,” Sorace said.

To Mackey, it’s a start.

“I’m grateful that the mayor has action points. I am fearful that a lot of people will pat themselves on the back and say that’s enough,” Mackey said.

She said it’s not enough until black people are no longer living in fear.

“I could be murdered in my bed and people want me to care about their feelings,” Mackey said.

She’s not alone in her fight, and she has a powerful ally — city coucil president, Ismail Smith Wade-El.

“You’re going to hold me accountable, too. We’re gonna talk , and we’re going to make this happen,” Smith Wade-El said.

Although “making it” happen isn’t easy.

“People sit here and they say, ‘oh, well you could have said that in a nice way,’ what’s a nicer way to communicate that my people have been experiencing mass genocide,” Mackey said.

However, they’re strong. The beloved stoop kids watch over protesters each night making sure everyone gets home safely, and they never let hate give way to their message.

“Everything here stayed peaceful not because it had to, because black and brown people decided that this was our city, and that is how we wanted it, because these young black people are taking care of their city,” Smith Wade-El said.

“I don’t want to be a hash tag,” Mackey said.

Every city employee will also receive anti racism and bias training, but this isn’t the end of the road for protesters.

They say they plan to be out both days this weekend, and on Sunday, they are hosting a community block party and barbecue. They say everyone wanting to promote a message of peace is invited.

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