News Wrap: Updates on local, national police reform proposals; why this all started in Minneapolis, and more

In this blog:

  • Communities United Against Police Brutality issue report on ending police violence
  • Nationwide tracking of public officials, governments, in support for divesting from police to invest in community needs
  • CityLab: Why Minneapolis was the city that triggered a national uprising
  • NYT essay: Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.
  • Friends offering online screening of “Suppressed: The Right to Vote” in honor of Juneteenth

Updates on ending police violence: Communities United Against Police Brutality report on ending police violence

Police protect the Third Precinct on the first night of protests over George Floyd’s murder.

The Communities United Against Police Brutality has issued a 24-page report: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO END POLICE VIOLENCE: Recommendations for Reform. It’s endorsed by Asamblea de Derechos Civiles; Black Lives Matter Minnesota; Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro; Blue LIES Matter; CAIR-MN; Justice for Marcus Golden; Minnesota Disability Justice Network; Racial Justice Network; and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.

The report offers 44 specific proposals to address police brutality, misconduct and abuse of authority. “Many of these recommendations are not new—our organization has presented them many times over the years,” the report says. “Prior failures by leaders at the city, county and state level to adopt these evidence-based solutions are what brought us to this place.”

Specific recommendations include:

  • Requiring police officers to carry their own professional liability insurance
  • Creating an independent agency for investigation and prosecution of law enforcement critical incidents
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct mandatory psychological testing
  • Ending police-only responses to mental health crisis calls

The report also names a few reforms it says will not work: residency requirements, anti-bias training and police-community relations efforts.

Tracking public officials supporting divesting from police to invest in community needs

Local Progress has created a publicly accessible Google Doc which tracks statements made by elected officials and government bodies from around the country which support divesting from police and investing in communities. The document has statements from Baltimore, Chicago, Washington D.C., Hartford (CT), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, St. Louis, and Texas. The site is being updated regularly.

“Founded in 2012, Local Progress is a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government. We are elected leaders who build power with underrepresented communities, share bold ideas and policy among our network, and fight to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country,” its website says.

CityLab: Why George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis triggered a national uprising

Fence art.

A City Lab article provides some useful Minneapolis history and an answer to the question: Why this started in Minneapolis.

The city’s history of disparate policing, and the ways racism and division molded its physical landscape, might help us understand why.

Minneapolis is at once considered one of the most livable cities in the country, and the one with some of the greatest racial disparities in housing and income and education. There’s a dissonance, locals say, between its progressive rhetoric and the reality of how people of different races experience completely different cities. This local paradox is a microcosm of the statewide “Minnesota Paradox,” a term coined by University of Minnesota economist Samuel L. Myers Jr., to highlight the often-ignored inequality that defines the region.

The article includes extended interviews with William D. Green, history professor at Augsburg University; Daniel Bergin, documentary filmmaker for Twin Cities PBS; Taiyon J. Coleman, assistant professor of English literature at St. Catherine University in St. Paul; Kirsten Delegard, co-founder of Mapping Prejudice, which tracks racial housing covenants in Minneapolis; and Shannon Smith Jones, executive director of the nonprofit affordable housing organization Hope Community.

NYT essay: Black Americans have fought to make America’s founding ideals come true

Martin Luther King Jr.’s mug shot from Birmingham. (Wikimedia Commons.)

As part of its 1619 Project, the New York Times ran ‘ extended essay: “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.”

Hannah-Jones reflected on her family life growing up, and the embarrassment she felt that her father flew an American flag:

How could this black man, having seen firsthand the way his country abused black Americans, how it refused to treat us as full citizens, proudly fly its banner? I didn’t understand his patriotism. …

The essay pivots when she writes:

Black Americans have also been, and continue to be, foundational to the idea of American freedom. More than any other group in this country’s history, we have served, generation after generation, in an overlooked but vital role: It is we who have been the perfecters of this democracy.

Her piece includes many examples of brutal violence against black people and America’s hypocrisy around democracy. But it also claims the foundational benefits black people brought to the American experiment:

For the most part, black Americans fought back alone. Yet we never fought only for ourselves. The bloody freedom struggles of the civil rights movement laid the foundation for every other modern rights struggle. This nation’s white founders set up a decidedly undemocratic Constitution that excluded women, Native Americans and black people, and did not provide the vote or equality for most Americans. But the laws born out of black resistance guarantee the franchise for all and ban discrimination based not just on race but on gender, nationality, religion and ability.

On-line film: “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote”

On Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the end of slavery, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is hosting an on-line screening of “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote,” a short film depicting voter suppression in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.

It will be screened Friday, June 19, 5:15 p.m. Central Time. Register here.  A panel discussion will follow at 6 p.m. where policy experts will explore how Congress can ensure safety from COVID-19 while protecting the voting rights of Black and Brown communities.

If you want to watch the film in advance and just join for the discussion, watch it here.

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