HAF backs efforts for more accountable and transparent policing, calls for community engagement

Washington, D.C. (December 10, 2014) - The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) joined leading civil rights and community organizations in calling for efforts to prevent fatal police shootings of unarmed Black men and holding law enforcement accountable in cases of police brutality.

In the aftermath of grand juries' decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Ferguson and Staten Island, N.Y., respectively, as well as the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland by a rookie police officer, HAF participated in a recent White House call to outline proposed efforts to change how law enforcement engages with communities of color.

The proposals include increased body cameras for police officers to record encounters with communities, more sensitivity training for officers, and an emphasis on community policing initiatives. The death of Garner, which was caught on camera, underscored the need for a new approach in how police interact with citizens, particularly African-American men.

HAF's Education and Curriculum Reform director, Murali Balaji, Ph.D, has engaged in talks with community leaders and individuals who have participated in nationwide protests following the grand jury decisions, and said the decision to support new calls for police accountability and increased community policing initiatives are consistent with HAF's mission of promoting human dignity, mutual respect and pluralism.

"These tragedies underscore our belief that all lives matter," said Balaji, who also penned a piece on building diverse racial justice coalitions. "Our calls for more accountability and respect for minority communities are rooted in Dharmic approaches to human and civil rights. We need to make sure that protests are non-violent and accompanied by constructive efforts to implement substantial reforms in the way law enforcement operates."

The community policing initiative would also benefit marginalized communities who have long complained that law enforcement has not paid sufficient attention to their concerns as victims of crime and harassment. Just last month, Indian-American residents in Edison, N.J., voiced their frustration with law enforcement for not doing more to investigate and prevent a string of home invasions.