In its call for a Week of Actions, today, The Movement for Black Lives is demanding divesting from the police and investing in Black communities. In support of this demand, I want to tell you about what’s been done in Newark, New Jersey, a city that, in the 60s, went up in flames and violence. Not this time and Aqeela Sherrills explains why.
Aqeela Sherrills used to live in Los Angeles and is a friend of my son, Troy, and knew my late husband, Tom Hayden. Now Aqeela lives in Newark and wrote this to a mutual friend of ours, Jodie Evans.
“In the 6 years I’ve been in Newark, we’ve developed a comprehensive alternative to policing. I believe that policing as we know it is at an inflection point. Violence as a Public Health issue is no longer a tag line. Crime stats is an inadequate way of measuring “safety”. Safety isn’t just the absence of violence and crime, it is the presence of wellbeing and the infrastructure to support victims and survivors in there respective healing journey. NCST is putting the “public” back in public safety.
Newark has become a national model for complimentary strategies to policing—There is tons of data (we’ve literally cut the murder and overall violence rate in half in Newark in 5 years) that shows our approach reduced violence and crime without police and improves peoples quality of life. I’m not advocating we push to get rid of police (they are too powerful and have too much money), but we can move more money to the type of work we do…and in 5 years, i guarantee you that in cities like LA where 54% of the general fund goes to LAPD, we can reduce by 15-20% and reallocate those $$.