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Communities United for Police Reform hosts forum on policing and redefining public safety

Craig D. Frazier | 12/5/2013, 1:01 p.m.

Last week, Communities United for Police Reform hosted an open dialogue at the Talking Transition tent in Chelsea on the future of public safety in New York City. A panel of social justice advocates engaged in social discourse and discussed issues that highlighted a direction the de Blasio administration should take on policing community safety to keep our streets safe without discrimination.

For the past two years, roughly 40 different groups of researchers, lawyers and community activists coalesced under one name, Communities United for Police Reform, and have built a strong platform supportive of reforms to stop-and-frisk, police oversight and critical civil rights protections.

“We have brought together policy groups, legal groups, advocacy groups, unions, elected officials, faith leaders and, most importantly, the most impacted communities in our city,” said Jose Lopez, a Communities United for Police Reform member and panel moderator. “We brought them together to talk about the big picture around how we not only want to stop this violence-based approach to policing in our city, but how we need to reframe and implement the kind of policing we want to see in our city.”

Organizers say that New York City voters overwhelmingly chose a new mayor who has the ability to enforce laws that are nonracist and exemplify nonoppressive behaviors. In addition, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio must make good on his commitment to rebuild the tattered relationship between the NYPD and communities.

“The administration coming should put into place remedies that come from Floyd v. NYPD. He should revoke the appeal, which is in his power, and ensure that the administration put into place proper oversight that has nothing to do with a federal monitor,” stated panelist Khary Lazarre-White, activist and executive director of a youth empowerment organization called Brotherhood-SisterSol. “For too long many of us have felt that we do not have equal rights in this city because of our race, our ethnicity, racial status, sexuality, etc. It simply cannot continue. We must change the tone. We want safer communities and our constitutional rights respected.”

When asked what the mayor should do in his first 120 days that would help make a safer New York City in regards to the NYPD, longstanding community activist and Life Camp Director Erica Ford responded, “I feel that the mayor should create an office of violence intervention and prevention in New York City,” she said. “He should also hire Chief [Philip] Banks as the new chief of police.”