The Verdict Is In, But the Work Is Far From Over: How Do We Talk About Racism and Community Policing?
April 21, 2021
Tags: Community Program, Community-Building, Equity, Open Minds Respectful Voices, Respect, Virtual Program,
Yesterday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges for the murder of George Floyd.
Our thoughts are with George Floyd’s family and friends. We hope the outcome of this trial gives them some measure of peace and healing.
We see this verdict as an affirmation that Black lives matter, and that no one is above the law.
Yet while the verdict is in, the work is far from over.
This verdict doesn’t change the fact that even though Black people account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, they are more than twice as likely as white people to be killed by police. Hispanic and Latinx Americans are almost twice as likely as white people to be killed by police.
Just during the weeks since this trial began, we have seen three more high-profile instances of police officers killing young people of color.
On March 29, on the day opening statements were given in the trial for the killing of George Floyd, a police officer in Chicago fatally shot Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American child.
Then on April 11, just 10 miles from the Minneapolis courthouse where the trial for the killing of George Floyd was taking place, a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop.
On April 20, just minutes before the verdict was announced in Minneapolis, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black child.
While the specific circumstances of these new cases are still under review, the fact remains that three more human beings were killed during encounters with police.
A system that regularly results in the killing of the people who it is supposed to protect is a broken system
We stand with those who feel helplessness, horror and rage watching the video evidence of the police violence inflicted on George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant and so many others.
We stand with those who are experiencing the ongoing trauma of watching this unjust violence happen not once, not twice, but again and again, while always wondering – who will be next?
George Floyd could be our staff member. Our volunteer. Our friend. Our family. A member of our community. In fact, he was all those things. George Floyd was a father. He was a brother. He was a son. He’s missed and mourned by a community of people.
A system that regularly results in the killing of the people who it is supposed to protect is a broken system. Something must change.
NCCJ exists to build a more compassionate and respectful community for all of us – not just some of us
We don’t have the answers. We can’t heal this pain or solve this problem.
But we can take part in finding solutions to break this cycle of violence and injustice.
NCCJ has the tools and expertise to help you explore the issues, take part in respectful and effective conversations, find common ground with others, and move forward in building a better community for all of us – not just some of us.
We hope for a community where every single person feels safe, protected, and respected during encounters with law enforcement officers.
And we hope for a community where law enforcement officers are given the holistic training and support that they need to effectively protect and serve and to go home safe at the end of each day.
What happens now? How do we get from here to there? What systems need to change to make those hopes a reality? What should the new systems look like? No matter what we decide, we recognize that any positive change must be facilitated through conversation.
To be effective, conversations about how to address this problem and redress our systems must include everyone involved – community members, elected officials, faith leaders, civil servants, law enforcement. People of all backgrounds and ages. Everyone must have a voice in charting a better future and building more respectful and compassionate systems.
Join NCCJ for Conversations About Racism and Community Policing (**Updated April 30**)
With that in mind, we invite you to join us for a new, three-part NCCJ program, “How Do We Talk About Racism and Community Policing?”
We hope you can join us on the evenings of April 27, April 29 and May 5 for these conversations about the work being done in our Triad community, how we can hold our leaders accountable, and actions we can take to create more equitable outcomes for ourselves and our neighbors. Please share this information with anyone (friends, colleagues, family) who may be interested in taking part.
Part 1: How Do We Talk About Racism and Community Policing? (Took place on Tuesday, April 27, watch recording here)
Community organizers ChesKesha Cunningham-Dockery (business owner and community activist), Anthony “A.J.” Morgan II aka “FreeDopeMajor” (We The People), Casey Thomas (Guilford For All) and Andrew Young (founding member of Montagnard/Southeast Asian Community Disparities Research Network) joined us to discuss work being done to address systemic racism in our community; the work that still needs to be done; how we can hold our leaders accountable; and steps we can all take to create more equitable outcomes for ourselves and our neighbors. The conversation was facilitated by Michael Robinson, NCCJ’s program director, and Reverend Julie Peeples (senior pastor at Congregational United Church of Christ, longtime ANYTOWN advisor, and an NCCJ Citation Award honoree.)
Part 2: How Do We Talk About Racism and Community Policing? Reflection and Response from Greensboro City Leaders (Took place on Thursday, April 29, watch recording here)
After watching the recording of the first program, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Chief Brian James joined Ivan Canada, NCCJ’s executive director, to share their reflections and responses about the ideas, questions and plans lifted up by panelists and audience members during that initial April 27 panel discussion.
Part 3: How Do We Talk About Racism and Community Policing? Building Community for Systemic Change (Wednesday, May 5, 6 – 7:30 PM – register here)
Open Minds, Respectful Voices Community Learning Sessions are an opportunity for members of our community to learn skills and share techniques for sustaining respectful and affirming discussions on uncomfortable topics. This special Open Minds, Respectful Voices session will guide participants in putting the LARA (Listen, Affirm, Respond, Ask Questions) method into practice as they have small-group discussions about topics such as:
- How did the panel discussion inform or challenge your perspective of the work being done in the Triad to address systemic racism?
- Are you talking to the people in your circles of influence about these issues?
- If, so, what are you learning, noticing, and doing differently based on these conversations?
- If not, what keeps you from bringing these topics up with people in your circles? What might make you feel more comfortable doing so?
- What do you hope for the future of your community and what skills, gifts, or perspective can you offer to make that future happen?
Other NCCJ Community Programs to Help You Explore These Issues
In the meantime, we encourage you to take advantage of some upcoming programs that we began developing last year, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
NCCJ’s Open Minds, Respectful Voices community learning sessions take place on Zoom every month. These programs are welcoming spaces where you can practice having more respectful and effective conversations, even – and especially – when you disagree with someone. The next one is on April 28. Click here to register.
The 8:46 Series is offered in partnership by NCCJ and the YMCA of Greensboro. It was launched in August 2020, educating 900 community members on systemic racism and its impact on our society. In 2021, the 8:46 Series is back with more topics to educate our community. Webinars are scheduled for May 6 (“The Story of Race: How We Got Here and What We Can Do Now”) and May 26 (“Operationalizing Racial Equity in Your Organization.”) Click here to learn more and register.
Actions You Can Take Right Now: Listening and Learning
We also encourage you to learn more about systemic racism and the history of policing and police violence in the United States. We suggest that you do so by exploring information from multiple sources that represent a variety of perspectives. As a starting point, we offer the following resources.
Understanding the Issues
- Smithsonian Magazine: 158 Resources to Understand Racism in America
- Mapping Police Violence
- Dr. Gary Potter (Eastern Kentucky University): The History of Policing in the United States
- So You Want To Talk About: Defund Vs. Abolish The Police
- Brookings Institution: What Does “Defund the Police” Mean and Does It Have Merit?
- Code Switch (NPR): An Immune System (21-minute listen)
- Throughline (NPR): Policing in America (1 hour, 7-minute listen)
- Former police officer Cheri Maples (Radical Compassion): Mindfulness and the Police
- Code Switch (NPR): How Much Do We Need the Police?
Some Resources for Mental Health & Wellbeing
Finally, we encourage our Black readers to safeguard your own mental health and wellbeing and practice self-care whenever and however you can do so. Here are some resources you may find helpful:
- 55 Mental Health Resources for People of Color
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- Brother, You’re On My Mind Toolkit
- Therapy For Black Girls
- Mental Health for Black and African American Students