JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — The Democratic Executive Committee of Jefferson Parish gathered on Zoom and broadcasted on Facebook Live Thursday night to discuss the use of force within the JP Sherriff’s Office.
The conversation, which they call Jeff Talk, was spurred in part by a recent encounter in River Ridge between a deputy and 34-year-old Shantel Arnold.
Arnold was seeking help after just having been assaulted by a group of teenagers. The deputy who responded is captured on video grabbing Arnold, who is not even five feet tall, by the hair and throwing her to the ground.
The JP DEC invited civil rights attorneys and activists to join in on the conversation and share their thoughts.
Michelle Charles, and attorney and co-founder of the Gretna/Algiers Chapter of the NAACP, weighed in.
“Definitely unacceptable behavior by deputies that are sworn to protect and serve the community,” said Charles, who also shared her experiences with JPSO as a Black woman in the parish.
“We can see that there’s a chronic epidemic of how people of color are treated differently than our other constituents in Jefferson Parish. So we, as a community, we are afraid of the police.”
While the JP DEC says recently approved body cameras in JP are a step in the right direction, they are calling for federal intervention.
“Is it time for the department of justice to investigate the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office?” asked Leslie Smith of the JP DEC.
“Oh yes, I would unequivocally say yes,” responded civil rights attorney Peyton Bowman.
“It is definitely very, very important that the federal government step in in Jefferson parish,” said Charles.
Sources tell our partners at the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that the deputy captured on video slamming Arnold to the ground is Julio Alvarado.
According to the paper, Alvarado has been on the force for 16-years and has been named in nine federal civil rights lawsuits – all involving use of excessive force.
The sheriff’s office claims the video was selectively edited but has opened an internal investigation.
Among this group in Jefferson Parish, there are calls for something bigger.