BYP100 on Pandemic, Protest, and Police

This week’s “Community thru Covid” on We Act Radio looks at the intersection of health risks from the novel corona virus and police violence amid protests for #DefundMPD in the current DC FY21 Budget cycle. GUESTS: Naiya Speight-Leggett, Dominique Hazzard, and Kendra Allen from BYP100 (Black Youth Project).

We talked about the need to #DefundMPD and some basic definitions. Domonique described what it means to “defund” and defunding’s relationship to “abolition.”

We talked about the many communities that are currently not made safe(r) by the presence of police. Kendra spoke in this context about the need to Decriminalize Sex Work and related campaigns.

We talked about keeping one another safe, through protesting and not protesting, finding a way to participating, and honoring many ways to show up. Doing this, Naiya said, models the kind of change #DefundMPD and related demands must include.

The conversation was rich and hopeful at a time when so much is not. Please listen and share. Video below. Audio here —

Resources Mentioned — note that this page is project of the Movement for Black Lives (natl/intl) and Black Lives Matter DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) as well as BYP100 (linked above).

Budget Testimony Toolkit — also linked on the DefundMPD page, but sharing here to highlight deadlines:

Submit testimony to DC City Council 

June 1st – 16th 2020

Sign up by June 11th to testify at the MPD Budget Hearing June 15th 12-6pm

No New Jails DC petition with background studies, more details

Does Bowser’s BLM Support Translate to Budget?

Perhaps the recent street painting means that the Mayor’s views on policing and public safety have changed and she will be adjusting the budget accordingly? We Act Radio inquired generally and also asked some specific questions of the Mayor on June 8. No response received by deadline, morning of June 10.

Instead, Mayor Bowser sent a letter to the DC Council chastising them for moving precipitously. The letter is read by Council Chair Phil Mendelson early in consideration of the Comprehensive Police Justice and Reform bills (Thirty-First Legislative Hearing June 9 — also on Council’s FB page). Here’s the letter:

Council Member Allen responded in part by noting how much input the Council and its committees have received, including through previous hearings and round-tables, on the very issues.

More Police-related Demands and City Response

We Act Radio also asked the Mayor to offer updates on other BLM demands, including releasing the the names of officers involved in Marqueese Alston’s killing. No response.

Bowser is, however, apparently prepared to sign the bill which makes illegal the kind of kneeling choke-hold that killed Alonzo Smith in 2015. She had promised such legislation to Zo’s family back then.

Facebook Live video


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