Rock Island County NAACP issues statement on DeShawn Tatum death

(Rock Island County, IL) -- The Rock Island County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a statement following the officer-involved death of DeShawn Tatum.

Current leader of Branch 3268 Bonnie J. President issued the following statement in regard to the incident and the investigation that is currently ongoing:

“The Rock Island County NAACP is saddened to learn of the death of DeShawn Tatum, a young man whose family has deep roots in the Rock Island community. We understand that there are aspects of this situation that we are not privy to at this time, and that an ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force. We will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation to clarify the circumstances of the death of Mr. Tatum, a son, family member, and friend.

As we are viewing this from the outside, we are reminded of the barriers that continue to exist between the African-American community and local law enforcement. As advocates for fairness in policy, practices, and public safety in policing, we will continue to monitor this situation and others. While we have made efforts to work with the local police department in years past, our community is not remiss from the national problems with policing. And, we believe this is yet another wake-up call to the Rock Island and surrounding communities. In an effort to increase community policing and decrease violence between law enforcement and citizens, we will continue to advocate for a higher level of accountability and transparency within the Rock Island County police departments. We will continue to advocate for diversity in police officer personnel, higher level training, use of body cameras at all times, and policy and practices that result in all citizens of Rock Island County receiving fair and equal treatment in their encounters with law enforcement. In an effort to begin to repair the damage that has undoubtedly occurred over the years in the Rock Island community, we must continue to have hard conversations of the role that race, class, and gender bias have in our community that may occur during police encounters.

Pending the local investigation by the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force, and due to this being an officer involved shooting, we believe it appropriate to request an external/independent investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Tatum.

By improving police-community relations, we make Rock Island County a safer place for all citizens to live and thrive.”

Tatum died following a confrontation with police at a Rock Island gas station on Thursday, April 1st.

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