Saying Ferguson ‘could happen’ in Holyoke, Springfield, Talbert Swan calls for special commissions

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Police handcuff a protester after rushing the crowd to arrest him on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Mo. early Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. On Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year old, in the St. Louis suburb. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
By Anne-Gerard Flynn | aflynn@repub.com
on August 20, 2014

SPRINGFIELD — Saying that the civil unrest that has followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson “could happen” in Springfield and Holyoke, the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, has requested that the mayors of these two cities establish special commissions to address issues that could prove to be “a powder keg.”

“Holyoke and Springfield are two urban centers that have a large population of persons of color,” Swan said. “They are also two cities with a sordid history around police-community relationships. These are two ingredients with potential for civil unrest.”

“What I am looking for,” Swan added, “is a commission that would address a myriad of issues that have led to problems. What has gone on before is the establishment of committees that addressed vary specific issues, or addressed those issues once the problems came to life. The commission I want would work year round, and would see problems before they come.”


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Hampden district attorney candidates field questions at NAACP forum in Springfield

by Stephanie Barry

[caption id="attachment_1203" align="alignleft" width="300"]NAACP 15282097-mmmain The Greater Springfield NAACP sponsored a debate between the Hampden district attorney candidates at Springfield Technical Community College on Tuesday evening in Springfield. Here Talbert Swan II introduces the candidates. From left is Swan, debate moderator Laura Hutchinson, and candidates Shawn Allyn, Hal Etkin, Anthony Gulluni and Brett Vottero. (The Republican photo by / Dave Roback)[/caption]

SPRINGFIELD – The four Democratic candidates for Hampden district attorney worked to bring their messages to the public during a forum hosted by the local NAACP chapter on Tuesday.

The forum included questions from a three-member panel. It hit topics including prison overcrowding, police brutality and marijuana prosecutions, while audience members followed up with queries about recalcitrant witnesses and diversity.

It was the fourth public forum for candidates Shawn Allyn, a Holyoke attorney; Hal Etkin, a lawyer from Longmeadow; assistant prosecutor Anthony Gulluni, of Springfield; and former longtime prosecutor Brett Vottero, also of Springfield. The event at Springfield Technical Community College drew by far the largest crowd of all the forums and featured the most detailed questions to date.


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Real Talk: In violent times, Pastor Talbert Swan II calls on his community to stop waiting for reforms.

By Tom Vannah

advocatestory17972After a busy morning in his office at the Springfield chapter of the NAACP, a haircut and a quick lunch with his 19-year-old son, Rev. Talbert Swan II walks down Hampden Street in Springfield, headed for the broadcast studio of WGBY, the local PBS station. There, Swan will tape a segment of Connecting Point, an issues-based program hosted by Aliz Koletas and Jim Madigan. Swan has been asked to join Springfield Police Detective Sean Condon and Armando Olivares, a 20-year-old Springfield resident who was acquitted last year in the fatal shooting of Reality Shabazz Walker, in a discussion of a topic that has occupied a lot of his attention, not just recently, but over the course of more than three decades of social activism and Christian ministry: violence in Springfield.

In fact, on this particular Tuesday afternoon in June, Swan finds himself still embroiled in a controversy he set off the week before, when he delivered a pointed message about the recent spate of street violence in the city—violence that, over the course of a few weeks, came in the form of a number of drive-by shootings, some in broad daylight and near public parks filled with people—that resulted in three deaths and many serious injuries.


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Presidents of the Greater Springfield NAACP and Council of Churches applaud appointment of John Barbieri as next police commissioner

By Jack Flynn | jflynn@repub.com
on March 21, 2014

[caption id="attachment_1170" align="alignleft" width="300"]Deputy Chief John Barbieri Deputy Chief John Barbieri[/caption]

SPRINGFIELD — The presidents of the Greater Springfield NAACP chapter and the Council of Churches of Western Mass. have praised the appointment of John Barbieri as the next Police Commissioner and promised to work with him in the future.

NAACP president Talbert Swan II and Archbishop Timothy Paul Baymon of Council of Churches issued a statement today supporting Mayor Domenic J. Sarno’s selection of Barbieri while also criticizing the closed-door process preceding the appointment.

“We are extremely disappointed at the lack of transparency and closed-door process,” Swan and Baymon said, referring to private interviews between Sarno and the department’s three deputy chiefs, the only candidates considered for the job.


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NAACP call for open police commissioner process, urge mayor to consider allegations against 1 deputy chief

By Peter Goonan | pgoonan@repub.com 
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on March 17, 2014

[caption id="attachment_1166" align="alignleft" width="300"]Deputy Chief Robert McFarlin Deputy Chief Robert McFarlin[/caption]

SPRINGFIELD — Representatives of three community organizations issued a joint statement on Monday calling on Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to create an open process for selecting a new police commissioner and urging him to consider their list of allegations of wrongdoing by one of the candidates, Deputy Chief Robert McFarlin.

The statement was issued after The Republican / MassLive reported on Monday that Sarno has completed closed-door interviews of the three deputy police chiefs as the sole candidates being considered by Sarno for commissioner.

The statement was issued by the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, Archbishop Timothy Paul Baymon, president of the Council of Churches of Western Massachusetts, and Michaelann Bewsee, director of Arise for Social Justice.

“In the interest of transparency, we call on the mayor to open his selection process and to allow public input,” the statement said.


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Michael Dunn Florida murder case: Local NAACP President Talbert Swan II decries justice system following mistrial

By Peter Goonan, The Republican
on February 17, 2014

[caption id="attachment_1159" align="alignleft" width="500"]swanpic The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II (File photo / The Republican)[/caption]

SPRINGFIELD — A partial mistrial in a Florida murder case for the shooting death of teenager Jordan Davis marks another example of failed justice involving a young black victim, according to the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield chapter of the NAACP.

In a prepared statement released this week, Swan wrote that news of a mistrial on a first-degree murder charge against Michael Dunn left him saddened by the loss of life and angry at the justice system.

“The failure to convict Michael Dunn of murder only highlights the perceived value of black life and reinforces the stereotypes, which justify racial animus against Black males, their disenfranchisement, abuse, brutalization and mass incarceration,” Swan wrote. “It further sends a clear message that murdering a black male can be justified simply on the basis of him being a black male.”

The judge declared the mistrial after jurors reported they were deadlocked on the first-degree murder charge. However, Dunn was convicted on four charges, including three counts of attempted second-degree murder that could bring a long jail sentence. State prosecutors said they will again pursue the murder charge at a second trial.


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Rev. Talbert Swan, NAACP urge Springfield police to increase Old Hill patrols in wake of shooting

By Patrick Johnson, The Republican
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on January 20, 2014

SPRINGFIELD — The head of the Greater Springfield Chapter of the NAACP on Monday asked Police Commissioner William Fitchet to step up patrols in the area of Union Street in the Old Hill neighborhood to help reduce problems from violence, gangs and drugs.

Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, in a letter to Fitchet, said recent criminal activity along the Union Street corridor “are indicative of an unfortunate culture of violent offenses and gun related incidents that threaten the safety of residents in that neighborhood.”

Swan’s letter was issued less than a day after an unnamed man was shot in the head at about 11 p.m. Sunday near 515 Union St. The man, though critically injured, is expected to survive, according to police.


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Viewpoint, Rev. Talbert Swan: In wake of Trayvon Martin case, should be better practitioners of love


By The Republican
on July 21, 2013 at 5:00 AM, updated July 21, 2013 at 5:03 AM

By Rev. TALBERT W. SWAN II, Springfield NAACP president

Today, many of our hearts are still raw from the tragic verdict that set a killer free. An unarmed child only two years out of puberty: a son, a friend, a nephew and a brother by the name of Trayvon Benjamin Martin was murdered for being young, hooded and black.

Our minds are not able to conceive the weight of grief that is upon the shoulders of the Martin family. However, despite the unbearable grief and justifiable anger, which they may feel, Trayvon’s family members have carried themselves with the utmost dignity throughout this entire ordeal.


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