Residents Upset Over Use Of Tasers By Police 8-24-2010 - WNEM TV 5

Residents Upset Over Use Of Tasers By Police 8-24-2010

Some police officers in Saginaw are under fire after they used Tasers guns to subdue several young people at a popular outdoor festival in Saginaw.
More than a dozen residents took to the podium during Monday night's City Council meeting to express concern about what they call "excessive force" being used by members of the police department.
The controversy stems from a recent film screening at Old Saginaw City's Lawn Chair Film Festival when police said officers were forced to use the electrically-charged weapons to subdue teens who were disrupting the event.
City leaders and members of the Saginaw chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People attended the meeting at City Hall and questioned if officers were practicing racial discriminating.
"How can we have peace when we are allowing the man who is supposed to protect and serve -- harass our children," said Minster Wesley Willis. "I think the police are very out of order and use force that is unnecessary."
However, not all residents say police actions were distasteful.
Saginaw resident Bill Giorgis said the annual festival had no problems during its first six years of existences. It wasn't until late last season and this year that the problem started to arise, Giorgis said.
"It was obvious none of those people had come to participate in the film festival viewing, but rather to hang out," he told members of City Council.
Saginaw Chief Gerald H. Cliff also defended his department's use of force. He said police have a "lawful right" to command certain people who resist.
"So far to this date, I have not found any incidents in the use of tasers -- that violates our taser policy," he told WNEM TV5.
Film festival organizers say they hope the controversy doesn't put an end to the festival.
Mayor Greg Branch and council members said they were not aware of the issue until Monday night's meeting and will investigate the claims.
Branch said the city will not stand for anyone disrupting the event, but at the same time -- won't tolerate police brutality.
WNEM TV5 will keep you updated as the story continues to develop.
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