Caucus of African-American Leaders calls for police accountability following violent O.C. arrests

OCEAN CITY, Md. – Local leaders are calling for police accountability in Ocean City. This call is coming in response to violent arrests made back in June.

“Had it not been for tourists capturing this incident on video, it would’ve been the police officers’ word against the citizens,” said Caucus of African-American Leaders (CAAL) Convener Carl Snowden.

CAAL leaders announced Tuesday they are creating a new branch of the organization that will cover the needs of the Eastern Shore. “It takes an entire village to raise a child. The Eastern shore is giving birth to equality and just treatment for all. We are going to the maternity room to help this birth come to pass,” said Rev. James Jones.

The new branch will be responsible for all nine counties on the Eastern Shore and is expected to have about 50 members.

“The goal is a very simple goal. It is to ensure that African-Americans and people of color receive justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” said Snowden. “If there are problems in Worcester County, you will find that people from Talbot County, Queen Anne’s County, and other parts of Maryland’s Eastern Shore will be responding.”

After meeting with Mayor Rick Meehan and Chief of Police Ross Buzzuro in July, caucus members say they’re seeing no progress when it comes to investigating the officers’ actions. “It’s sent a message to those alleged victims that if you were brutalized, if there’s misconduct here in Ocean City, nothing will happen,” said Snowden.

But the caucus is staying hopeful. Leaders also announced they will be submitting a formal request to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to open an independent investigation. This is now possible, as it’s part of Maryland’s new police reform legislation that went into effect earlier this month.

“The question is going to be whether or not they can do it, because the law went into effect in October, and whether you can make it retroactive,” said Snowden.

As the caucus gets that request together, they’re also focusing on gathering more advocates to join their cause. “We need to admit that it’s okay not to know. But how can you come to the table and learn the things that you need to learn to bring action to your communities? So, that’s what we need to do going forward, for not only our young people, but for all members of our community,” said Salisbury University NAACP Chapter President Dorien Rogers.

The trial date for that group of young men involved in the boardwalk arrests is set for November. Caucus leaders say that they are planning to show up with dozens of supporters to stand behind those defendants. “We do not claim that any young man did anything right, nor wrong. But, we’re looking at excessive force and police brutality in and around our communities,” said Rev. Jones.

47 ABC did reach out to Mayor Meehan’s office for comment, but did not receive a reply.

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