With policing being a crucial topic and the election only weeks away, The Citizen is co-sponsoring a deliberative forum about policing because many citizens have engaged from different sides of the issue and with different perspectives. Here’s a timeline of some key events and developments regarding police in Harrisonburg over the last few months.
Following their responses to Black Lives Matter rallies in Broadway and Elkton this summer, militias and two police departments in Rockingham County have caught the attention of a national legal center that monitors militia groups and sometimes takes constitutional issues to court.
A valley between them: While one group has brought signs to local racial justice rallies, another carried guns
A few hundred people knelt in silence in Heritage Park in Broadway earlier this month. Drops of sweat beaded on their brows amid the muggy early evening air as eight minutes and 46 seconds passed quietly. The silence was meant to honor George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis and whose death has sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the globe. It was interrupted by a counter-protester on the ridge overlooking the park.
A month after coming up with the idea for a new citizen-driven commission to push for racial justice in the Valley, organizers of the new People’s Equality Commission of the Shenandoah Valley are setting their sights on creating public forums to amplify residents’ voices.
Over the course of two years, 9,587 people were arrested in Harrisonburg, and during that time 86 encounters involved use of force— amounting to less than 1% of the arrest totals. But the confrontations in which an officer used force beyond handcuffing a person disproportionately involved black people, according to arrest and use-of-force data the Harrisonburg Police Department released Friday.