FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 9, 2015
Contact: Juan Evans, 770-256-5727, firstname.lastname@example.org
Solutions Not Punishment Coalition celebrates new policies to protect the dignity and safety of trans and gender non-conforming people
(East Point, GA) In late October, 2015, Juan Evans, a Black transman, was arrested by the East Point Police Department during a routine traffic stop. Throughout the encounter, police officers referred to him as an “it” and “thing,” repeatedly asked him about his genitals and ultimately threatened him with a “genital search” to determine his gender. Like so many trans and gender non-conforming people, this was not the first time Juan had experienced disrespect, ignorance, and abuse at the hands of the police.
But what happened after that was a first for Juan and the city both.
Just a week later, Juan returned to the Police Department with 100 community residents and members of the TLGB Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co) supporting him in his demand for an investigation, an apology, and, most importantly a change in the policies and practices employed by East Point police officers when dealing with trans and gender non-conforming people. The action won immediate and public apologies from the Mayor, City Council and Chief of Police. But the Coalition demanded more – new policies and in depth training for all officers.
Yesterday, six months after the incident, the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition had a final meeting with the City Manager, City Council representatives, the Chief of Police, the City Attorney and the department’s compliance officers to review what coalition members view as the most progressive trans policies to be enacted by a police department in the nation. Advocates credit East Point City Councilman Alexander Gothard with helping to bring Police Chief Tommy Gardiner and other stakeholders together to work toward a positive resolution. “This is a huge victory for everyone in my community,” said Evans, who sat at the head of the table throughout the final negotiations. “Our community stood together and demanded to be treated with dignity and respect – and we have won a very significant step.”
According to the Standard Operating Procedures to be adopted this week, a trans, intersex or gender non conforming person shall be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, can choose what gender officer they would like to conduct a search, and is explicitly protected against biased based profiling. The policy states that officers in violation of any section of the policy will be disciplined. And in depth training will be offered to officers every six months by a POST certified trainer and a person of trans experience with expertise in these issues.
“I’m happy that East Point Police Department, after six months of dogged persistence, finally opened up a transparent process and worked with the community to address these issues. I’ve been stopped and mistreated by the Atlanta Police Department numerous times and had hoped the City of Atlanta would be the first to adopt more progressive SOPs. With its action, East Point has shown it is willing to lead the way,” said BT, Founder and President of Trans(forming), one of the anchoring organizations of SNaP Co. The Solutions Not Punishment Coalition has also been working with the City of Atlanta to urge them to adopt similarly comprehensive and progressive policies. When contacted yesterday, the Atlanta Police Department said they are almost complete, just “waiting on layout.”
“The community outrage over this incident is an indication that this is not an isolated incident,” said Ms. Dee Dee Chamblee, of LaGender, Inc., another anchoring organizations of SNaP Co. “Trans and gender non-conforming people suffer at the hands of law enforcement every day and the community has finally said ‘enough.’ We will protest and we will organize until the culture of every police department in Georgia is transformed.”
Solutions Not Punishment is a trans* led, broad based coalition of hundreds of individuals and organizations that works to build the power of people most likely to be victims of violence and most likely to be arrested and harassed by police, especially Trans* and gender non conforming people of color, current and former street level sex workers, and formerly incarcerated people. SNaP Co envisions a society where people are safe from all forms of violence, where a bold and vibrant democracy flourishes, and where our communities are truly interdependent. SNaP Co is anchored by the Racial Justice Action Center, LaGender Inc., and Trans(forming).