Easthampton police reform group presses for action

  • State Rep. Daniel Carey, from left, Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti kneel at the Easthampton Public Safety Complex, June 4. The protest inspired the formation of the activist group 01027: A Knee Is Not Enough. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2020 6:43:56 PM

EASTHAMPTON — A police reform group calling itself 01027: A Knee Is Not Enough is pushing forward with a list of demands, with a presentation scheduled at Tuesday’s Community Relations Committee meeting.

The group has also met with Mayor Nicole LaChapelle.

“We had a pretty candid conversation,” said Jason Montgomery, a member of the group.

For her part, the mayor said the Monday meeting with the group went well, describing the meeting as an introductory one.

“They’re looking to be collaborative. Certainly, I am as well,” she said.

A Knee Is Not Enough was formed in response to the citywide protest called by LaChapelle and Police Chief Robert Alberti last month, where people across the city took a knee for 8½ minutes to protest racism and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

Some of the long-term demands of the group include putting all complaints made against Easthampton police officers under a community review board, cutting the Easthampton Police Department budget by 10% and reallocating the money, and creating a comprehensive 211 system utilizing those resources. 211 systems connect those in need with health and human service resources.

In terms of some of the short-term demands, the group is requesting a breakdown of the $13,000 in training contained in the fiscal 2021 budget, a commitment to demilitarize the police in equipment and training, and a request that Chief Alberti reinvest the payout he received from covering protests in Northampton and turn down his raise for fiscal 2021.

“We will formally ask him to do that,” said Montgomery.

Speaking Sunday, the chief said that he hadn’t yet heard from the group. He also said that his salary increase and detail pay are part of his contract.

Some of the group’s demands have already been met, such as the police code of conduct being available, but Montgomery said they were left on the list for archival purposes.

The meeting where the group will give its presentation to the CRC is scheduled to be conducted via the videoconferencing application Zoom and begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The presentation itself is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Montgomery said the presentation in front of the CRC will cover the national movement to defund the police, the structure of A Knee Is Not Enough, and the demands that it is advancing.

Montgomery said more than 100 people are part of the group, which is led by its Black, Indigenous and People of Color Caucus. Montgomery, who is of Indigenous Californian and Chicano descent, is a member of the BIPOC Caucus.

“We are a volunteer grassroots organization,” Montgomery said.

He said that while the group believes in the philosophy of the defund the police movement, “the language, let’s be honest, confuses people.”

Montgomery said the movement is seeking to take such things as poverty and mental health calls away from police, and is looking to have those tasks be handled by groups better equipped to deal with them.

“We have to look at what we’re asking our police, really unfairly to do,” he said.

Montgomery said he views this policy as “very pro-police,” as it takes areas from police purview that they’re not able to handle. He also said that A Knee Is Not Enough includes a number of people with connections to law enforcement.

In terms of what the group is planning after its CRC presentation, Montgomery said members of A Knee Is Not Enough have talked about joining the CRC, and helping to form a working group to work on the group’s demands.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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