By Nicole P. Marwell, Jennifer E. Mosley
In cities across the country, mayors and city councils are being called on by protesters to slash police budgets and use those government dollars differently. By shifting vast public spending from police salaries, pensions, facilities, training and equipment to support for housing, education and health care, cities have an opportunity to transform themselves into more just and sustainable places. But both activists and government officials should be cautioned: Reallocating funds to build more responsive health and human services is not going to be a straightforward process.
Institutional racism is not found just in the police — it’s also woven into schools, mental health clinics and housing providers, though in ways that are hard to capture in a tweet. To address this, African American activists and public service professionals have long called for greater inclusion in the design and implementation of human services and more robust accountability to the communities being served. Their requests, however, often have been dismissed as politically motivated, and previous attempts at inclusion, such as during the War on Poverty, were dismantled when elites found their control over public resources threatened (Read more).
On May 20, 2015—almost five years ago to the day—the African American Policy Forum hosted #SayHerName: A Vigil in Memory of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police, so that families from across the country could come together in a powerful show of solidarity to uplift the stories of their late loved ones. They were the family members of Alberta Spruill, Rekia Boyd, Shantel Davis, Shelly Frey, Kayla Moore, Kyam Livingston, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, and Tanisha Anderson. We said their names.
While the hunting and killing of Ahmaud Arbery has become a well-known tragedy, many have yet to hear the story of Breonna Taylor—a Black woman who was killed when plainclothes policemen mistakenly raided her home and shot her eight times. Taylor was a certified emergency medical technician who spent many of her last hours in high-risk service to others. The risk she did not survive—the one that broke through her door spraying bullets—was the all-too-common one facing Black women: a killing at the hands of white cops and a posthumous descent into public anonymity (Read more).