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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. 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.

Go deeper

Survey: Philly's civil forfeiture program targeted Black residents

Expand chart
Data: Institute for Justice, Policing for Profit; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new survey sheds light on how Philadelphia's civil asset forfeiture program disproportionately targeted Black residents before it was reformed three years ago.

  • The program seized property from a majority of people never found guilty of wrongdoing in the years leading up to 2018, the Institute for Justice found.

Why it matters: Philadelphia was historically a "hotspot" for civil forfeiture, with police and the district attorney's office aggressively seizing cash, cars and homes, University of Pennsylvania legal expert Louis Rulli told Axios.

  • "The people most affected by civil forfeiture were poor, they were communities of color, and they were the most vulnerable in our city, who could least afford to lose their property," Rulli said.
Updated Oct 21, 2021 - World

Police charge man with murder of British MP David Amess

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Police said Thursday that Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man, has been charged with the murder of David Amess, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K.

The big picture: Last week, the Metropolitan Police declared the fatal stabbing a terrorist incident, saying that they had found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Updated 6 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.