Black Lives Matter: Midtown Kingston
Recently, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbury and many others have once again highlighted the enduring legacy of racism in our country, and how this legacy continues to interface with modern day policing and police brutality. Kingston is not exempt from this reality and the Midtown community – which is one of the most racially and culturally diverse parts of our city – continues to bear the brunt of unchecked local police violence. As a result, abusive policing significantly undermines the right of many members of our community to live in a neighborhood in which they feel safe and welcomed.
It is therefore the responsibility of our organization to engage in addressing this crisis in that we understand police abuse fundamentally as a human rights issue that impacts the public health and safety of the members of our community. We are proud to participate in and support local and national marches that call for police accountability and reform as a means to address this injustice. We are also committed to helping shift public dialogue and challenge systemic practices in a way that supports the value of Black lives.
At the same time we call for these changes, we recognize that police officers are also members of our community and that their jobs can be profoundly challenging, particularly when they are overburdened by inappropriate expectations. For too long, we have placed the public responsibility for mental health and social work onto police officers, and officers cannot reasonably be expected to negotiate situations that warrant the experience of a seasoned mental healthcare professional or social worker.
Therefore, in addition to advocating for police accountability, we believe it is also our responsibility to support the reallocation of public funds that support the militarization of the police to social services and organizations that are more appropriately equipped to respond to these kinds of issues. This shift in prioritization would help to limit police presence in situations in which de-escalation and other peace-building practices are more effective means of addressing communal conflict, increase the overall safety and well-being of our neighborhood, and prevent police officers from being asked to intervene in situations for which they are untrained and unprepared.
We therefore call on public officials in the City of Kingston to support local police accountability legislation and to support the development of creative new means to address conflict in our community that does not require police presence. Members of our organization will support such measures with our time, presence and energy and are committed to working with City residents and leadership to make our city a place where everyone feels a sense of safety, connection and belonging in our community. Until such a time, we will continue to be present for and supportive of various Marches for Black Lives in our city.