Bay State Banner Senior Editor Yawu Miller was photographing the Roxbury Court House recently for astory about police overtime, when he says he was stopped by about seven officers and questioned. The officers recorded him in the Field Interrogation and Observation database, thus rendering him another Black man in a cohort that comprises 70 percent of stops by Boston Police, according to data from the police department.
Miller told Boston Public Radio on Tuesday that though the officers were courteous with him, the stop highlighted a disconnect between the officers who are dispatched to protect and serve, and the people who live in the city.
"I think our police force does not closely resemble the population of the city, which is to say ... they’ve not been hiring a lot of Black or Latino officers in recent years," said Miller. "It’s troubling to me that we have a police force that's unfamilliar with the communities they're policing. They’re supposed to protect and serve our community, and I think a lot of them aren’t from here."
Miller said the past month of activism around police reform — launched by George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis police officer — has been "night and day" to the past few years in Boston.
"The Black and Latino Caucus, and Progressive Caucus have been pushing many of the reforms debated now since 2015," said Miller. "That they're getting an airing now is miraculous. It of course has everything to do with what’s gone on around the country and the fact that there've been demonstrations here. ... The window's wide open. I've not, in my adult life, lived through a moment like this where people are so open to change."
Miller noted that the next few days will be key, as the House just releaseda police reform bill on the heels of the Senate's own bill, with mere days left in the session ending July 31.