Black Leaders Seek Fairness in Budgets

Even as nationwide protests continue over police violence, concerns in Black communities don’t stop there.

Other urgent issues include getting resources to combat COVID-19 and worries over job losses, community organizer Brittany White told Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins during a recent Zoom meeting.

“We need safety nets in place,” she said. “The reason why people are upset is because they’re being criminalized, over-policed, and underpaid – and they don’t have anywhere safe to live.”

Still concerned about face-to- face talks during the pandemic, Jenkins hosted the online discussion on race with faith leaders, community organizers, and other officials. Fairness in government budgeting was a top concern.

“There are other things that we need to be investing in as a city.”

Sara Mokuria, co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality

Recent city furloughs didn’t hit the police department, Mothers Against Police Brutality co-founder Sara Mokuria said. They hit what she called “alternatives to policing” like arts and recreation programs.

Police identified as “bad cops” should be furloughed first, she said, referring to the Brady List. A 1963 U.S. Supreme court ruling resulted in prosecutors maintaining names of officers found to be unreliable after internal affairs investigations. It doesn’t keep an officer from testifying in court, but prosecutors are required to divulge that the officer has had a sustained investigation in regards to giving false testimony.

The Rev. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church referred to a story last year about The Plain View Project’s report on racist social media statements by police across the country. The group identified 109 DPD officers thought to be in violation of the department’s social media policy, and 60 more that were no longer with the department.

“Are they still working?” Haynes asked. “What policies have been enacted to deal with racist police officers?”

Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall wouldn’t term any of the statements as racist but said the department reviewed them and determined which violated policy. Reportedly 13-15 officers were disciplined and received training.

“Some of it is considered to be free speech,” she said. “I’m not a lawyer, I’m a cop.”

Mokuria asked that the city and county take a long look at budgets and what they’re asking law enforcement to do.

“Police are not the correct responders to all the things they are responding to – mental health, issues around domestic abuse,” Mokuria said. “There are other things that we need to be investing in as a city.”

To watch the full discussion, check out the video below.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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