I think my blog will usually be a little irreverent. But I’m just not feeling it today.
Yesterday evening, community members gathered after the second police involved death of unarmed men, one of whom was black, in Maricopa County (Mesa & Phoenix) in the past week.
I was asked to speak and didn’t.
Elected leaders and political candidates talk way, way too much. Also, I know I have a lot to learn.
So, I just held space with my neighbors and brothers and sisters, and tried to listen.
Some things I learned in a new or deeper way last night:
1. The divide between the police and impacted communities (especially communities of color – of all economic classes – and poor communities) will not be bridged, at this point, without radical transformation in the way policing happens. We will not tweak our way out of this terrible mess.
2. We set ourselves up for this terrible mess, in the first place, by creating a “criminal justice” system, filled with “law enforcement officers,” instead of a PUBLIC SAFETY system filled with PEACE OFFICERS.
Just think about that for a long minute.
Imagine the kinds of things we would be investing in if our goal was THE SAFETY OF ALL people in our communities – ALL people – and not just the “enforcement” of laws.
3. There aren’t enough elected leaders with enough imagination or big enough hearts or enough courage in our state. That needs to change. Now. Because PEOPLE. ARE. DYING.
I published a “criminal justice reform” policy statement and proposals on my website weeks ago. Here’s what I didn’t say, and should have:
If elected, I will form a citizen-led task force – and give it real power – to help us reimagine and re-shape public safety in our state.
And I will do everything in my power to fix this, so help me God.