• Press statement on the Medical Examiner’s report on Richard Davis’ Death

    April 1, 2016

    The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s report on the cause of Mr. Davis’ death places the responsibility solely on the Rochester Police Department and consequently the city of Rochester.

    Rev. Lewis Stewart, surrounded by supporters and family of Richard Davis, talks to the press

    Rev. Lewis Stewart talks to the press. Members of Richard Davis’ family are on his right.

    The use of tasers has been very controversial.  It has been touted as a non-lethal tool by law enforcement for subduing individuals, but in fact, it is a lethal weapon.

    Nationally, during this year there has been a total of 47 fatalities, to date, caused by the use of taser technology.

    When tasers were first introduced, it was thought they really could be used without causing any harm.  However, we know how deadly these electronic control weapons are when used on subjects with cocaine or alcohol in their blood, a predisposed heart condition and/or psychiatric issues.

    Moreover, if officers are untrained, and have not followed certain protocols, are uncertified or abusive, the use of these tasers may also result in death of the victim.

    In light of Mr. Davis’ demise as a result of the use of a taser, we call again for the following:

    • Make ample and judicious use of the Emotionally Disturbed Response Team especially when the subject is unarmed.
    • When the subject is unarmed, it is best to use de-escalation techniques. Bring in a negotiator contain the situation and save lives.
    • Provide for more officers to receive training when interacting with emotionally disturbed persons.

    Mr. Davis was unarmed.   He did not possess a firearm nor a knife.  Yet, 50,000 volts coursed through his body, shocking his heart and killing him.  His death is tragically typical for many other deaths following the use of a taser by the police.  Would it not have been more cautious for the officer to wait for backup and support instead of reacting aggressively?

    Mr. Davis is gone.  How do we obtain justice for him and his family?

    Clearly, the city and city officials are already siding with law enforcement.

    Certainly, the District Attorney is going to manipulate and guide the Grand Jury into a decision of no indictment against the police officer involved.  The decision has already been tainted.

    We have very little faith in a grand jury system which always sides with the police officers nearly 100% of the time, no matter how egregious some of these officers behavior may be.

    In the final analysis, we need an independent investigator from the State Attorney General’s office who will look into this case rationally and has no connection with the local police nor the District Attorney’s office.  We have placed a call and are awaiting a response.

    In conclusion, this specific case goes beyond just the police officer involved.  There is a larger picture.

    • A police culture which is always aggressive against people of color and mired in certain racial perceptions.
    • A system which develops new and sophisticated weaponry designed to incapacitate, disable and kill, and this weaponry is being used among communities of color. Many of these companies, such as Taser are solely about the profit margin.   They are no different than the gun manufacturers.
    • A grand jury, district attorney, law enforcement – judicial nexus which will always find in favor of the police against the victims of police aggressive force.

    Sandra Doorley and others are now engaging in splitting legal hairs between when is a homicide a homicide and when is a murder a murder.  They are playing fast and loosely with legalities instead of admitting the truth.

    This is emphatically hypocritical and ridiculous.  A man is dead, and the Medical Examiner ruled it as a homicide, a murder, a killing brought on by the use of a taser by a law enforcement officer.

    Don’t con us.  Don’t spit in my face and the face of this family and community and tell us it’s a spring rain.

    Admit that there is culpability on the part of the Rochester Police Department.  Be honest.

    The Police Executive Research Forum has stated in their guidelines about tasers:   “that tasers should not be seen as an all-purpose weapon that takes the place of de-escalation techniques.”

    We need to make a decision and decide what kind of society we desire to be.

    Thank you.

    Rev. Lewis Stewart

  • Bombings in Brussels

    Following the recent bombings in Brussels Belgium by ISIS terrorists, Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz have issued inflammatory diatribes that could potentially impact Muslim Americans in our nation.

    Ted Cruz called for Muslim-American neighborhoods to be patrolled by law enforcement and Republican Candidate Donald Trump proclaims that American mosques ought to be policed.

    These statements are reminders of what Adolph Hitler transformed into horrific policies against the Jews in Nazi Germany.

    These are the xenophobic rantings of demagogues who seek to stoke the fears of hyper Americans against Americans of a different religion who are citizens of the United States of America.

    These statements reek of the stench of fascism and racism and certainly play strongly among the racist and Islamaphobic elements in our society.

    The fallacies of their statements are the following:

    • There are no Muslim-American neighborhoods
    • Muslims are socially and ethnically diverse
    • American Muslims live and work as productive members of our society, in business, law enforcement, the military, education, lawyers and scientists, and loyal citizens of this nation
    • Cruz and Trump are definitely engaging in playing the RACE CARD and are talking about policing by and large, people of color
    • Any vote for Trump and Cruz is a vote for fascism, racism, and xenophobia, which may lead pogroms and deprivation of the citizens’ rights of Muslim Americans. We all know what happened to the Jews, gays, and others who did not fit the Aryan model of perfection.

    Therefore, we call upon the Monroe County Republican Committee and the New York State Republican Committee to denounce both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

    Also we call upon the members of the faith community to stand in solidarity with our American-Muslim brothers and sisters who through fear may be racially profiled and deprived of their civil rights.

    For further information, please contact Rev. Stewart at the UCLM office.

  • UCLM Conference Honors MLK

    Over 150 people attended UCLM’s conference honoring the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 16, 2016, the weekend honoring his birth.

    With the title “Finding Solutions – Community Healing, Restoration, and Justice,” the event sought to promote the Dr. King’s philosophy and implement his methods for effective community transformation.

    For the conference kickoff, a panel focused on the root causes of violence in communities of color. Read more…

  • Rev. Stewart to Speak for Gun Safety

    Rev. Lewis W. Stewart, President of UCLM, is scheduled to speak at a rally sponsored by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety to commemorate the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy and to honor all victims and survivors of gun violence.

    The event will take place on Sunday, December 13, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Rush Henrietta Senior High School, 1799 Lehigh Station Road in Henrietta NY.

  • Police-Community Relations News

    We’d like you to know about these UCLM activities.

    Rev. Stewart will meet with Rochester Police Department Chief Michael Ciminelli on Friday, December 11, 2015 to discuss the Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team.

    The Police-Community Relations Committee of UCLM and the Coalition for Police Reform are researching a model for an independent Police-Community Advisory Board. The committee has looked at several models across the nation however, the Syracuse and the New York City processes look viable.

Back to top