Despite what this Facebook invite claims, the Richmond Human Rights and Human Relations Commission (HRHRC) will not be hosting a town hall on April 27 encouraging residents to testify about their “experiences of police terror,” according to Jasmine Jones, the commission’s chairperson.
The apparently misleading invite states the commission will be holding a “town hall meeting on police brutality, abuse and terror” in Richmond City Council Chambers.
It states Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is scheduled to attend the town hall, and used the above image as the invite’s cover photo.
“We invite the community to attend and share their testimonies and experiences of police terror,” the invite states.
But the Richmond HRHRC is not, in fact, holding a town hall on April 27, Jones wrote in a reply email Sunday to Mayor Tom Butt, who expressed concern over the Facebook invite.
“To be VERY clear the Richmond HRHRC is not hosting a town hall,” Jones said. “We are having a regularly scheduled meeting and we’ve invited the Chief to come out to update us on specific things.”
Chief Magnus told the mayor he was invited to the meeting to discuss “use of force” and “police pursuits.”
The mayor warned Jones that attendees connected to the Facebook invite may attempt to stray from the commission’s agenda in order to get their point across.
“There would be no way to prevent any number of speakers to turn it into [a town hall] unless you exercise your authority as chair to disallow any discussion that does not directly address the chief’s update,” Butt said in an email response to Jones.
Mayor Butt first expressed concern about the ‘police terror’ town hall following a report on the event in the Richmond Standard Sunday morning. He sent an email to various city officials and commissioners citing numerous points of concern about such an event. For one, Butt said, none of the names listed as hosts of the Facebook invite are Richmond residents, nor are the victims featured in the cover image.
The mayor questioned whether “this is a proper function” of the HRHRC and if Richmond City Council Chamber “is a proper location” for such an event.
“While this subject may indeed be under the broad duties and functions of the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission, the description ‘police brutality, abuse, and terror,’ foreshadows a conclusion rather than a subject matter,'” Butt wrote.
The mayor added, “describing this discussion as ‘police brutality, abuse, and terror’ is a little over the top, especially in Richmond where police brutality, abuse, and terror is largely accepted as a thing of the past.”