NAACP submits written statement on policing to Fairbanks officials

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 4:20 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In a letter addressed to several Fairbanks officials, the Greater Fairbanks Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released a position statement on policing Sunday, November 22nd.

Among the recipients were Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly, acting Fairbanks Police Chief Richard Sweet, and Fairbanks City Council.

The NAACP explained in the statement, “All residents in Fairbanks have the right to respectful, safe, and equitable police protection and conduct.”

To this end, the written position explained that a successful police department will prioritize Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and others from marginalized communities in its Police Chief hiring committee.

According to Helenmarie Matesi, Police Accountability and Community Outreach Committee Chair with the NAACP, the position statement took six to eight weeks to write.

“What it’s all about is this is what a good police department should look like. These are the things, these are things that a good police department should have at their disposal,” Matesi said.

The announcement explicitly affirmed that Black lives matter, as do those of police officers and first responders. The NAACP stated that the document is in response to “the systematic oppression, discrimination, and unjustifiable murders of people of color in the United States, here in Fairbanks and around our state...”

In an emailed response on Monday, Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly said that his administration and the Fairbanks Police Department (FPD) agree with the NAACP’s statement on equitable police protection and conduct. He then stated he was perplexed that the NAACP listed its beliefs without acknowledging that the FPD is currently meeting the requirements listed.

Matherly went on to write, “I take issue if you are implying that unjustifiable murders are being committed by FPD officers, as that is simply not factual.”

The NAACP presented their position statement at Monday’s Fairbanks City Council meeting.

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