Sep 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Some Black leaders eye talks with police organizations

San Diego Police officer Ben Kelso, 53, shares a laugh with local resident OJ Phillips at Paradise Valley Park, June 12, 2020 in San Diego, Calif.

San Diego Police officer Ben Kelso, 53, talks with resident O.J. Phillips. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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."
Rev. Markel Hutchins, CEO of MovementForward, speaks at a Faith & Blue press event.
Rev. Markel Hutchins, CEO of MovementForward. Photo: MovementForward

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.

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