Some Black leaders eye talks with police organizations
A Black Baptist minister is pushing for Black communities to engage directly with police organizations on criminal justice reform — a counter to progressive groups urging radical changes.
Why it matters: Homicide rates are soaring across the country and some civil rights advocates fear they'll lose momentum on fighting systemic racism if they don't include police in reform efforts.
Details: Rev. Markel Hutchins, CEO of MovementForward and Atlanta-based minister, is spearheading the National Faith and Blue Weekend — a nationwide project to build bridges between police agencies and communities of color.
- From Oct. 8 to 11, churches will host various social and formal events across the country with law enforcement agencies, from rosary services for officers in Baltimore to community forums about crimes and reforms in Schaumburg, Ill.
- The Horizon Christian Fellowship is organizing a cookout with San Diego police officers and members of the Unity Gospel House of Prayer will play a friendly basketball game with Milwaukee police.
- Hutchins invited some police organizations, like the Fraternal Order of Police, that at times have been at odds with some Black civil rights groups because of their support for former President Donald Trump and resistance to some policing reforms.
What they're saying: "The vocal minority that we've heard too much from in the media and in social media are the ones (who) are bastardizing and demonizing law enforcement," Hutchins told Axios.
- Hutchins said an overwhelming majority of Black Americans and Latinos support an increased police presence in some neighborhoods because of concerns about public safety.
- "Fear causes a lot of these officers to engage in the use of force that is not necessary. But we also have to deal with crime and violence. We tackle this by engaging."
The intrigue: This is the second year of a National Faith & Blue Weekend, and it has expanded to include more law enforcement groups and churches following the 2020 protest of the death of George Floyd.
- Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives also are joining the event.
The other side: Other civil rights and advocacy groups are pushing more aggressive efforts to reform police and say some law enforcement agencies can't be trusted based on their record of abuse.
- A Minnesota judge this week struck down ballot language that aimed to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new agency -- a proposal with roots in the “defund the police” movement.
- The Movement for Black Lives charged last month that the federal government targeted Black Lives Matter protesters with heavy-handed criminal prosecutions in order to disrupt the global movement.