Tuesday night, the activist group Tools for Social Change hosted a community meeting at the Geneva Public Library. The standing room only event provided community members with an opportunity to speak out on accusations that a City of Geneva police officer shared racist images on Facebook. Late in the session they were joined by representatives of the Geneva Community Compact.
The Geneva Community Compact was originally created in response to the police shooting of Geneva resident Cory Jackson in 2011. It was designed to enhance the relationship between the City, the GPD, and the communities of color. Following the term of the original agreement, it was renewed in late 2016. City Manager Matt Horn sits on the steering committee.
“What we wanted to make sure could happen in a situation just like the one we’re dealing with is that we wouldn’t have to scramble to find out who’s heading up the Human Right Commission now or speaks for Tools for Social Change in these matters. This steering committee meets monthly. It’s actively developing programming and it was actively developing programming prior to this incident. So, I think what you’ll see are some really robust and well developed programs that come along at the perfect time.”
Yesterday, the Community Compact released an official statement condemning the images and the message they communicate.
“We are very clear both as a Compact steering committee and as the City of Geneva that our value system is one that embraces diversity, that celebrates it, and the City’s comprehensive plan goes a step further and says that it’s a part of our whole economic development program. It’s a part of our competitive advantage in the region.”
The Geneva Police Department has launched an investigation and the Community Compact called upon the City and the GPD to move quickly, but thoroughly, and be transparent in its findings. The steering committee also encouraged Chief Trickler and Horn not to treat this case as an isolated incident, but as a symptom.
“The Chief and myself need to look deep into the City organization and make sure that any barrier that’s based on race that any bias in any city program or service is eradicated.”
The complete text of the Geneva Community Compact statement:
STATEMENT FROM GENEVA COMMUNITY COMPACT STEERING COMMITTEE ON GENEVA POLICE OFFICER SOCIAL MEDIA COMMENTARY
The Geneva Community Compact was developed in 2016 as a vehicle for enhancing the relationship between the City of Geneva, the Geneva Police Department, and the communities of color. Our members, including the NAACP, the African American Men’s Association, Geneva Human Rights Commission, Tools for Social Change, the Courtyard Tenants Association, and the African-American and Latino faith community have adopted a mission of repudiating racial and cultural bias.
The images and associated message communicated via recent social media posts by a Geneva Police Officer are in direct conflict with the principles embraced by the Community Compact, the charge put forward in our mission statement, and the City’s stated core values of rebuking racism and celebrating our racial and cultural diversity. It is the stance of each of our signatories, and the Community Compact Steering Committee, that messages promoting hate, division, white supremacy, or denigrating any race or culture have no place in Geneva or in any of our public agencies.
We understand that the Geneva Police Department has launched an investigation into these posts. It is our desire that this investigation be thorough and swift, and that the conclusions and associated ramifications be in clear and direct alignment with our core values of inclusion and celebration of our rich racial and cultural diversity. A clear line should be drawn between these values and any discipline offered in this case.
We also emphatically encourage the Chief of Police and City Manager to treat this case not as an isolated incident, but as an opportunity to seek out all potential for racial bias in City and Department operations. The City and Department must take the steps necessary to solidify the City’s commitment to acting in alignment with our core values, and to expel any public employee whose actions run counter to these values.
As this particular incident is resolved, the Compact Steering Committee will continue to develop programming, including enhancements to the police personnel complaint process, community and officer training on race-based issues and biases, and restorative justice initiatives.
If you, or anyone you know witnesses or is victim to an incident involving hate, discrimination, or bias, please don’t hesitate to contact the Geneva Human Rights Commission at email@example.com. --September 19, 2017