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Dayton residents take police brutality rally to steps of police headquarters

Daj’za Demmings, the founder of the Dayton Young Black Professionals speaking in support of police reform in front of the Dayton Safety Building.
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
Daj’za Demmings, the founder of the Dayton Young Black Professionals speaking in support of police reform in front of the Dayton Safety Building.

About 40 Dayton residents and community leaders gathered in front of the Dayton Police Department on Sunday to rally against police brutality.

The rally was in support of Clifford Owensby, a parapalegic Black man who was dragged out of his car by his hair last month by Dayton Police officers after Owensby left what police say is a suspected drug house.

Speakers began the rally with a prayer while others held signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“All we're asking is to be treated like human beings, not just Black people, not just white people, not just disabled people,” said Daj’za Demmings, the founder of the Dayton Young Black Professionals. “Everybody just wants to be treated like human beings at this point.”

At the rally, speakers listed a set of demands which included a public apology to Owensby from the chief of police and the officers involved.

Other demands included that the police officers involved be suspended while investigations are underway and for the city to seek an external party to conduct an investigation.

The Dayton Police Department's Professional Standards Bureau has begun its own investigation, however speakers like Pastor Chad White said they don’t trust the city to investigate itself.

“We do not trust the police to police themselves. We just don’t do it,” White said. “History has shown that the police always find themselves innocent, they cannot do it.”

At a city commission meeting on Oct. 13, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said the interval investigation is likely to take between four to six weeks.

“Considering the depth of an investigation of this nature and multi levels of review, this process can and should take time,” Dickstein said. “This is not a quick process because it is a thorough process.”

Commissioner Jeff Mims attended the rally and said he supports an external investigation of the incident. But he added that there is due process to all things, including police use of force.

“We have things that are going on right now as you speak to try to rectify that [incident],” Mims said. “One of the things that I do know is going to happen is that there will be an outside investigation, that I can promise you.”

Leaders and activists say they will continue to rally until justice is served to Owensby and the city commission approves stronger police reforms.

“We all play a part, history repeats itself. No one group can do anything alone,” Demmings said. “This is a human issue. We are fighting for humanity. If not now, then when?”