SB citizens review board petition signed

South Bend, Ind. The push for a citizens review board on police actions continued Sunday with a "March for Justice" sponsored by People Uniting for a Better Government.

There was a large turnout of community members toting signs asking for greater transparency as they paraded from Doulos Chapel to the St. Joseph County Courthouse.

Organizers like Pastor Mario Sims referenced the police tapes scandal in their speeches to the crowd.

"We have at least a ten-year history of this stone-walling the people when it comes to asking about the functions of government," Sims said. "These people today have drawn a line in the sand."

Other speakers like Komaneach Wheeler accused the police department of having a hand in wrongful convictions.

Her son, 18-year-old Rayterrion Wheeler, is currently serving a murder sentence in connection with the November 2012 murder of 51-year-old Mack Caldwell of Mishawaka.

"My son was not only framed by his friends," Wheeler told the crowd. "He was framed by the South Bend Police Department and he ended up being framed by Metro Homicide."

Yet organizers said the message of the march was not "anti-police."

"We're looking at making sure that police officers and citizens can live together and coexist in the city and believe in each other," Sims said.

Group leaders passed around a petition urging the formation of a citizens review board that would have the power to conduct parallel investigations into police actions.

Common Council Member Henry Davis, Jr. said he would bring the petition before the rest of the council.

"You would have a wide array of folks from different areas in the community that look differently that speak differently but can talk about what needs to happen in the community," Davis said. "Which I think is completely positive that they want to step up and be a part of the government."

South Bend Common Council Member Derek Dieter said he still needs to review the content of the petition, but the council's authority is limited in these cases.

"The council does not have power over the Board of Safety -- all five are mayoral appointments," Dieter told NewsCenter16 Sunday night. "Ultimately the resolution is just an opinion has no legal binding authority."


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