Faith, Love, Politics, and Social Justice

Safety or Justice? : Refuse to Choose

http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2013/34/stopfriskappeal_all_2013_08_23_q.html

Here is the full text of my testimony:

I am a New Yorker. I love my city. I served it for 20 years as a police officer. Now I am serving it again as a pastor.

Like all New Yorkers, I want two things for my city – safety and justice. I am troubled by what the mayor and the Police Commissioner are telling us, that we have to choose between safety and justice.

They tell us that, if we want a safe city, we have to accept that the price of that safety is that some New Yorkers will have to live under siege in their own communities, unable to even walk out their front doors without fearing yet another stop and frisk, not because of anything they have done, but because of who they are – black, Latino, disabled, LGBT, Muslim or poor.

We are told that, on the other hand, that  if we demand justice for all, if we want fair treatment for ourselves and our neighbors, the price will be skyrocketing crime rates, a return to the “bad old days” of the 1970s and 1980s.

Don’t believe it. We don’t have to make that horrible choice. We can have a city that is both safe and just. Public safety does not come from aggressive policing. It comes from good policing and good policing starts with a good relationship between the police and the communities they serve.

That relationship is horribly broken now. It will not heal overnight, but the community safety act is a step in the right direction toward restoring trust between the people and the police and leading us all toward a more safe and a more just New York City.

So I am urging all my fellow New Yorkers, particularly our City Council members – don’t give in to the fear-mongering. Do what you know is right. Overturn the mayoral veto and sign this bill into law.

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