If the movement isn’t against police, but racist policies, then all eyes should be on City Hall and the 2015 election.
You’ll here many of the activists marching and performing die-ins in Philadelphia (and around the country) suggest to their critics that they’re not protesting police, but racist policies, like stop and frisk and broken windows policing.
And if truth be told, it’s not just a talking point, the activists really do want to see policies that criminalize and dehumanize people of color wiped off the books.
Unfortunately, good intentions and wishes won’t enact change, deliberate engagement of the system does. Though the protests in Philadelphia have been peaceful and they’ve helped change the local narrative, they’ve done little – though there’s still time – to develop political clout which can be leveraged going into May.
In about five months, every elected position in City Hall – from City Commissioner to the Mayor of Philadelphia – will be up for grabs in the primary election.
Every Philadelphian involved in the movement should not only be inquiring of others to ensure they’re registered to vote, but registering their friends and neighbors, while surveying the groups to see who’s interested and/or who can be convinced to run for office. Voting registrations cards, in my opinion, should be as visible as the hand-drawn signs everyone is carrying.
When Mr. Michael Nutter campaigned eight years ago, he held up stop-and-frisk as one his crown jewel policies. Not only was he elected in 2008, but he was re-elected in 2011.
And during his tenure, while he certainly made Philadelphia a much more marketable city, he did nothing to advocate for a stronger, independent Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, though he was a strong and visible advocate in making the Office of Sustainability a permanent fixture of government.
Mr. Nutter, as Mayor, assisted in safeguarding the Philadelphia Police Department from being reviewed by the City Controller’s office. When asked last year about the financial viability of stop-and-frisk, City Controller Alan Butkovitz said he wasn’t able to obtain those numbers, because “the police department is impenetrable.”
Mayor Nutter supports broken windows policing, suggesting recently on Meet the Press that no level of crime is acceptable.
Mr. Nutter, while he’s been praised for his ability to garner private and philanthropic dollars to underwrite capital projects like Dilworth Park, hasn’t leveraged his celebrity and portfolio to get police cruisers outfitted with dashboard cameras.
Mr. Nutter, who by Executive Order re-established the Mayor’s Commission on African-American Men in late 2011, hasn’t made any dollars available to execute a citywide recruitment campaign for black male officers. Though Commissioner Ramsey lately has expressed his concerns over the department’s lack of diversity, the fact remains it’s been nearly a decade since there’s been a real effort to recruit black men, despite repeated claims from the community saying they want more officers who look like them and live in their neighborhoods.
I said all of that to say this: I want to see the anti-police violence movements in Philadelphia continue, but with context and strategy, not with emotion and anger.
If the movement isn’t against police, but racist policies, then all eyes should be focused on City Hall and the 2015 election.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: C. Norris – copyright 2014