July 30 BPD Shooting: Black Youth Have a Right to Safety and Protection
On July 30, Officer Cheri Miller fired her gun three times at three Black youth in their vehicle in North Berkeley while responding to the teenagers stealing some items from CVS. Officer Miller firing her gun at Black youth in their vehicle is a use of deadly force, and is not to be taken lightly. Nobody was shot, but they could have been. Over some items from CVS. In the midst of a national uprising against state sanctioned violence against Black people, BPD took a full month to release footage and any details of this incident, not even the name of the officer, and only did so following organized community pressure for transparency regarding the incident. Following the incident, neither BPD nor media outlets reported on the race of those shot at, and we only knew they were Black because an independent journalist released a transcript of the police scanner on Twitter. It was abundantly clear that BPD was trying to sweep this incident under the rug, depoliticize it, and piece together a story to tell the public, which we can see in their propaganda video released September 1st. BPD has prioritized the protection of their own officer over the protection of our community. Thankfully there were multiple people there to witness and document the incident. What would they have released if there weren’t people there to film, who saw what really happened?
In footage captured on a bystander’s cellphone, we see Officer Miller exit her vehicle, gun already drawn and pointed at the teenagers, aggressively shouting confusing orders and escalating the situation. We hear the dispatcher ask for Code 1 backup, yet Miller arrived on scene as if this were a Code 3. As an officer only 22 months on the force, this incident indicates a serious problem internal to the structure of BPD, and the way new officers are initiated onto the force. In a different video of the incident, also captured on a bystanders cellphone but conveniently not included in BPD’s highly edited video of the incident, we see that there were several concerned community members present and in very close proximity to where Miller fired her gun. In their propaganda YouTube video, BPD is trying anything they can to justify this excessive use of force, but it is clear to us that Officer Miller was the only one in this situation who has put our community in danger.
We still have so many questions. They were driving away when Officer Miller opened fire. Why was lethal force deemed necessary? Would the officer have fired her gun if they were three white youth? We don’t know. What we do know is that police violence is rooted in this country’s anti-Black racism that all police departments enforce and uphold, and BPD is no different, despite the pseudo “liberal/progressive” veil they attempt to hide behind.
We demand that Officer Miller be fired, we restate the continuous demand to defund BPD by 50%, and we assert that our Black youth have a right to safety and protection.