Columbia residents march to support change in CPD chokehold policy protest

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COLUMBIA - The organization, People’s Defense, plans to hold a rally to show support of a new chokehold policy for the Columbia Police Department on Wednesday night.

The rally will begin at 6 p.m. at the Boone County Courthouse and will end at the Columbia Police Department.

Members of People’s Defense proposed their own chokehold policy and believe CPD’s policy is too vague. 

According to CPD’s current policy, choke holding is prohibited unless officers feel threatened of death or of a serious injury. People’s Defense proposed policy is to eliminate chokeholds all together, and instead have police officers resort to an alternative defense option.

Roy Lovelady is a member of People’s Defense and will be at the march Wednesday night. He said he has experienced a chokehold from a CPD officer and that the policy is too vague.

“I am a victim myself of a chokehold by a police officer, but then once explained to me it was like ‘well that is not a chokehold,’” Lovelady said. “So for them to be able to explain ‘this is a chokehold, this isn’t a chokehold,’ it’s a loophole.”

He said any type of choke holding to a person is dangerous to the community.

“Any chokehold, period, is needed to take your breath away,” he said. “Why would we give offers that type of power? So we need to take that power away from them.”

People’s Defense media representative, Kirubel Mesfin, said the community is essential to the organization and that it is here for them.

“Understanding that the public sees that we’re still here, we’re on the same side as them, we’re still fighting for and with them,” Mesfin said. “That is, in essence, what the People’s Defense is about and that’s what we’re trying to do this week.”

People’s Defense has held events and protests for several weeks now, but this is the first time that they’ve shared their plans to the public. The group said it did this so that more people can join and participate in the events.

KOMU 8 reached out to CPD, but they said are not able to comment without a written statement from People’s Defense with the policy changes that they would like to see.