UTICA — The Oneida County branch of the NAACP raised concerns Friday about how police handled an Aug. 15 drug raid that led to 15 arrests.
About 25 African-Americans gathered at the morning press conference in front of St. Paul's Baptist Church on Leah Street to complain that police used excessive force and caused unnecessary damage.
"We are officially letting it be known that we are well aware that police brutality and harassment is very common in our community, and we are here today to take a stand against it," NAACP president Roy Duhart said.
The NAACP called for steps including the dropping of charges against five of the suspects, an apology and repairs to some of the houses involved in the raids.
Drug-related charges should be dropped against Tamieka M. Hill, 21, Veneisha A. Brown, 19 and Rakeisha M. Elliott, 18 and George A. Garrett and Nate Garrett, Duhart said.
Lt. Nicholas Loconte of the Oneida County Drug Enforcement Task Force said what occurred in the Aug. 15 raid happens in every raid.
"Our procedure would be everyone is taken down in the home and secured, and that's for their safety as well as ours," Loconte said.
The Rev. Tenolian Bell, pastor of St. Paul's Baptist Church, asked for equal treatment regardless of race or class.
"If that's standard policy, let's see where they've done that in white homes in South Utica or North Utica," Bell said. "Show us evidence where these same kinds of things have been done there."