Multiple civil rights groups in the county will join forces on Tuesday to protest a possible police brutality incident last week in Aspen Hill.
Members of Showing Up for Racial Justice, Montgomery County (SURJ), the Silver Spring Justice Coalition and Takoma Park Mobilization will gather at the County Council building in Rockville to demand charges be brought against officer Kevin Moris.
A video posted to Twitter on Wednesday showed Moris kneeing a restrained suspect in the back of the head outside a restaurant in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center. He has been assigned to “administrative duties,” police announced in a statement on Friday.
The suspect, 19-year-old Arnaldo Pesoa, of Silver Spring, was charged with intent to distribute a controlled substance, resisting arrest and assault. He was apprehended by undercover officers for allegedly selling psilocybin mushrooms, police said.
SURJ member Laurel Hoa said the groups are bothered that assault charges were brought against Pesoa for the altercation, but none against Moris. Protesters are calling for Moris to be removed from duty entirely.
With just two days’ notice, Hoa isn’t sure how big the crowd will be on Tuesday night, but said they will have “just enough to make a statement.”
The incident is being investigated by county police’s Criminal Investigations Division, and the findings will be referred to the county state’s attorney’s office for review.
In a joint statement on Friday, County Council President Nancy Navarro and Vice President Sidney Katz called for Acting Police Chief Marcus Jones to brief the council on the incident and “share with us his strategies for community-police relations, including de-escalation training strategies, to make our county a safe place for all our residents.”
Navarro and Katz said they were “outraged and deeply saddened to watch the videos that show a young man being apprehended by Montgomery County Police officers using what appears to be excessive force.”
Following the rally, protesters will attend a council hearing on a Policing Advisory Commission bill with signs “demanding accountability and change,” according to the event announcement on Facebook.
The bill was introduced by at-large council members Will Jawando and Hans Riemer, and would allow citizens to assist with county police department policy formulation. Riemer is holding a press conference to discuss the bill as part of the hearing.
Charlie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org