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Social Justice Black Lives Matter Discussion Thread

JessFR

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The last page or so left a bad taste in my mouth, maybe let's try not to be so personal about things? Jesus christ. Too far, Jess

Which part specifically? If something I said came off wrong I'd like a chance to explain. Or if something I said came off right I'd like a chance to expand on it.

If it's just the whole thing generally, then I suppose there's not much I can say.

Other than to say... I hate racism, but I don't live in fear that what I say might come off sounding racist, cause the truth is there's sooo many racists who try to hide behind being supposedly anti racist.

People who try to subtly redefine racism.

I define racism to he the hatered of or feeling superior towards or thinking as inferior of other races.

Which is completely separate from disliking or even hating certain cultures. We are all impacted by the cultures we grew up in. And because of racial stigma cultures have a tendency to become linked to race, but they're still in no way inherent.

I do not believe that Maori or islanders have to act like thugs like TripSitterNZ portrays them. It's crap. It's purely people embracing a destructive and self harming culture and having a misguided belief that being part of that culture is what you have to be to be of that race. It's crap.

I'm not gonna take trayvon Martin's side because he was black. He was in the wrong,he started the fight. And likewise I won't take the cops side when they shoot unarmed black men in the street with no provocation just because they're white or because they're police.

I will take the side the evidence shows as being correct regardless of the racial makeups involved.

And likewise I will attack destructive and misogynistic cultures regardless of what race of any they're associated with. I refuse to stay silent because foolish people might consider it racist and would rather we just look the other way.

And I absolutely refuse to justify, defend, or lesson acts of violence on the basis that "they can't help it its part of their culture". That is total racist crap. They can help it and there are plenty of non violent people of every race and noone should stay silent while certain bad eggs try and claim they should get away with violence because of their race or their persecution or whatever other excuse they've got.

That's what I believe. And that's where I'm coming from here.
 
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Xorkoth

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Just your general tone is really aggressive and insulting/mocking to TS...

I don't know, it just seems needlessly personal and aggressive. Would you want someone to talk to you like that?

I agree with your core point about violence, 100%, but I'm willing to bet TripSitter feels pretty disrespected by the way you communicated your point.

It just rubbed me the wrong way so I felt like I had to say something.
 
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JessFR

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Just your general tone is really aggressive and insulting/mocking to TS... like this one in particular made me cringe:



I don't know, it just seems needlessly personal and aggressive. Would you want someone to talk to you like that?

I agree with your core point about violence, 100%, but I'm willing to bet TripSitter feels pretty disrespected by the way you communicated your point.

It just rubbed me the wrong way so I felt like I had to say something.

Fair enough, I just really really despise this justification of wanton violence as being "part of my culture and its racist to say it's wrong!". It's such crap.

I experienced violence growing up, and it infuriates me that we sit by and often do so little about the continuing abuse in minority communities because people are too afraid of being see as racist if they act.

So it infuriates me to hear someone so casually justify and defend this crap.

Im not exactly gonna be I inclined to worry about the feelings or respect of someone who repeatedly has defended committing unprovoked violence towards people cause he feels disrespected and he's too spineless to say anything about the culture that encourages it.

If people don't say anything if they keep playing it down.. nothing will ever change.

And honestly.. That quote of mine you listed.. I entirely mean it in the most literal sense. The actual white racists out there, they loooove this shit. They wanna divide people and get more white people to hate other racists. And taking people of minority races who support and defend wanton violence in the streets is an exceptionally effective tactic to turn more people to their cause.

If you're on the fence and you see minorities who deliberately portray themselves as thugs and defend attacking people and some nonsense code of street justice, it's easily enough to flip people from in the fence to supporting actual racist politics.

Most people out there, they just wanna be left alone. So what are they gonna think when they're shown someone of a minority group happily defending beating someone in the street cause he decided he thought he was a racist by how he looked. And not only that but saying that all the rest of his race are the same. That any of them might attack you over nothing at any time and they think that's perfectly OK.

They're gonna wanna segregate. And segregation only feeds racism. To fight racism people need to come further together not further apart.
 
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andyturbo

Moderator: AADD, MDMA, TL; Administrator: PR.net
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A worthless comment from andyturbo but fuck the whole racism issues really do my head in. Why cant we ALL as human beings.. acknowledge (and not forget) the wrong doings of many colours and races in the past but MOVE ON as united humans.

We have millions starving to death in some countries yet people killing/bashing eachother over longtime race issues..

My dream.. i know it wont happen anytime soon :(
 

Deru

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The recent post directed toward @TripSitterNZ has been deleted for violation of CEPS Forum Guidelines #1. I understand people feel passionately about these topics, but if you feel your argument needs to escalate to be directed towards an individual to prove your point, it may be best to temporarily disengage from the conversation.
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...

Minneapolis to spend $6.4M to recruit more police officers


Minneapolis is planning to spend $6.4 million to hire dozens of police officers, at a time when some City Council members and activist groups have been advocating to replace the police department following George Floyd’s death.

The City Council voted unanimously Friday to approve the additional funding that police requested. The department says it only has 638 officers available to work — roughly 200 fewer than usual. An unprecedented number of officers quit or went on extended medical leave after Floyd’s death and the unrest that followed, which included the burning of a police precinct.
...
While there have been calls to dismantle the department after Floyd's death, some residents have begged the city to hire more officers, citing longer response times and an increase in violent crime.
...
Meanwhile, three City Council members have proposed replacing the police department with a public safety department that would include law enforcement and other services. Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of local community groups, is also collecting signatures to try to get a similar proposal on the November ballot.


The Star Tribune reported the Yes 4 Minneapolis committee is being fueled by a half-million dollar grant from the Washington, D.C.-based group Open Society Policy Center, which is associated with billionaire George Soros. Organizers hope to collect 20,000 signatures by March 31.
...
The petition would remove police department language from the city’s charter and create a public health-focused Department of Public Safety, “including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.”


Progress?
 

Noodle

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..probably. :)



Days before the City Council vote, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised to update the application process for police recruits to include questions about whether they have lived in Minneapolis, have degrees in criminology, social work, psychology or counseling, and whether they volunteer or participate in programs such as the Police Activities League.

Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman said they hope the change “will help us to really feel confident that we are recruiting the kinds of candidates we want right from the beginning.”

Meanwhile, three City Council members have proposed replacing the police department with a public safety department that would include law enforcement and other services. Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of local community groups, is also collecting signatures to try to get a similar proposal on the November ballot.


The Star Tribune reported the Yes 4 Minneapolis committee is being fueled by a half-million dollar grant from the Washington, D.C.-based group Open Society Policy Center, which is associated with billionaire George Soros. Organizers hope to collect 20,000 signatures by March 31.

“We have a policing system that doesn’t work for us and we need alternatives,” said Rachel Bean, who signed the petition Saturday. “I’m a social worker and I feel like we have lots of tools that we could try to create more community safety.”

The petition would remove police department language from the city’s charter and create a public health-focused Department of Public Safety, “including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department."
]

 

Cheshire_Kat

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The Washington Post reports that there is a surge of violence in Minneapolis since they "de-funded the police". This is surely a sign of success, correct?

Let's do it everywhere!


Washington Post Article


By
Holly Bailey
November 13, 2020 at 11:25 a.m. CST
MINNEAPOLIS — The sound of gunfire has become so familiar across North Minneapolis that Cathy Spann worries she has grown numb to it.
Day and night, the bullets zip through this predominantly Black neighborhood, hitting cars and homes and people. The scores of victims have included a 7-year-old boy, wounded in a drive-by shooting; a woman who took a bullet that came through her living room wall while she was watching television with her family; and a 17-year-old girl shot in the head and killed.

Spann, a longtime community activist who works for the Jordan Area Community Council, cannot recall another time when things were this bad — not even when the city was branded “Murderapolis,” during a spike in violence in the mid-1990s.
George Floyd’s America: Examining systemic racism and racial injustice in the post-civil rights era
The police are not as much a presence as they used to be, Spann said, noting that sometimes when neighbors call 911, officers are delayed in responding or don’t come at all.


“If you want to talk about pandemics, we’re dealing with a pandemic of violence,” Spann said on a recent afternoon, just as word came of two more nearby shootings. “We’re under siege. You wake up and go to bed in fear because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. . . . And our city has failed to protect us.”
Nearly six months after George Floyd’s police killing here sparked massive protests and left a wide swath of the city burned and destroyed, Minneapolis is grappling with dueling crises: an unprecedented wave of violence and droves of officer departures that the Minneapolis Police Department warns could soon leave the force unable to respond to emergencies.
Violence rises in Minneapolis, as debate over role of police rages
Homicides in Minneapolis are up 50 percent, with nearly 75 people killed across the city so far this year. More than 500 people have been shot, the highest number in more than a decade and twice as many as in 2019. And there have been more than 4,600 violent crimes — including hundreds of carjackings and robberies — a five-year high.
Most of the violence has happened since Floyd’s killing on Memorial Day, and some experts attribute it in part to the lingering anger over the slaying and the effects of the coronavirus, including job losses and the closure of community centers and other public spaces.
A man etches “RIH” — an abbreviation for “rest in heaven” —  on a Minneapolis street in June after violence in the city following Floyd’s killing.

A man etches “RIH” — an abbreviation for “rest in heaven” — on a Minneapolis street in June after violence in the city following Floyd’s killing. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Minneapolis police say they have struggled to respond. They have faced a surge of officer departures in the wake of Floyd’s killing and the outcry against police. In June, a city council majority promised to defund and dismantle the department and replace it with a new agency focused on a mix of public safety and violence prevention — a move that could go before voters in 2021.


Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said over 100 officers have left the force — more than double the number in a typical year — including retirements and officers who have filed disability claims, some citing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder linked to the protests over Floyd’s killing.
In a recent meeting with the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which is studying police staffing as part of the city council’s efforts to remake policing, Arradondo told members he had been forced to deactivate several divisions inside the department and put those officers back on patrol because of staffing shortages.
He told the commission the department has about 735 sworn officers — down from the city’s budgeted 888 positions — of which about 500 were on patrol, he said. He warned that dropping below 500 officers on the streets would jeopardize the city’s crime response and that he and Mayor Jacob Frey had started to develop “contingency plans” that would include “triaging calls” for help, something he said he believes will erode public trust further.


“It’s creating a police department that I did not want to have, and that’s one-dimensional,” Arradondo said. “Our core focus is patrols and investigations.”
On Friday, the city council voted to allocate nearly $500,000 for the police department to temporarily hire officers from neighboring law enforcement agencies to help patrol city streets from Nov. 15 until the end of the year.
“Our city is bleeding,” the chief told members of the council on Tuesday. “At this moment, I’m trying to do all I can to stop that bleeding.”
But the plan to hire temporary officers does not address the department’s uncertain future, with even more officers considering departing.

Ron Meuser Jr., a Twin Cities personal injury attorney, said he represents 175 Minneapolis police officers who have left the force or are in the process of filing disability claims that would allow them to leave their jobs permanently, many citing PTSD from recent civil unrest.

One officer said he is in the process of leaving the force after he suffered physical injuries, including cuts and burns, during the days of unrest after Floyd’s killing. While inside the city’s 3rd Precinct building as it was overtaken by protesters and subsequently burned, he recorded video messages to his wife and children because he thought he might not make it out alive.
“After that, I wasn’t me anymore,” said the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. He said he had nightmares. He couldn’t sleep. He had panic attacks.

In training, he had been taught to listen to his body when arriving on a scene, to pay attention when the hairs stood on the back of his neck. Sitting in his squad car, he constantly felt physically sick and found himself unable to focus, second-guessing every decision. He later was diagnosed with PTSD and is receiving treatment.

“I was paranoid. I was anxious. I was depressed,” he said. “This made me into a person who wasn’t good to be a cop.”
Meuser said his firm recently met with an additional 100 officers who are considering leaving the force, some citing mental exhaustion and fears of further unrest, including protests linked to the trial of the four former police officers charged in Floyd’s killing, which is scheduled for March. The officers have expressed a fear that the city will suffer “Portland-style riots during the entire trial,” he said, referring to extended unrest in the Oregon city.
Police officers accused of killing George Floyd to be tried together, in Minneapolis
Low morale is rampant, Meuser said, and he expects the exodus could extend to hundreds more officers by summer, perhaps as many as a third of the department’s positions. “You have a lot of officers come in and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ They sit there with their spouses and say, ‘Is this worth it?’ ”
A protester screams at a Minnesota State Patrol officer on May 29 in Minneapolis.

A protester screams at a Minnesota State Patrol officer on May 29 in Minneapolis. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Noticeable absence​

The absence of officers on the streets has been noticeable, especially in South Minneapolis near where Floyd was killed. Dozens of Minneapolis residents spoke before the city council last month, many complaining of trauma from the constant gunfire and violence and robberies.


“Since the unjustified and unfortunate death of George Floyd, the city council has engaged in rhetoric that has emboldened criminals, the proof of which is in the unprecedented spike in crime,” said George Saad of southwest Minneapolis, describing himself as an immigrant and a “child of war” who came to the city because of its rich diversity. But now, Saad said, he feels terrorized in his own community, afraid to walk down the street.
“You guys have had years to address any culture problems within the Minneapolis Police Department,” he said. “You have failed to do so. Instead, you embark on a campaign against your own police department, fighting and demonizing an entire internal city organization instead of making it better.”
Karen Forbes of South Minneapolis told council members how bullets burst through her living room wall on a recent night, narrowly missing her head. “I have relived that night many times, hearing the sounds of the bullets hitting my radiator and drywall spraying everywhere,” Forbes said.


Like many during the hearing, Forbes questioned the lack of officers on the street and blamed the city council for pursuing what she described as a “sociology experiment that obviously doesn’t work.” She and others called for a surge of law enforcement into the city.
But it’s not clear that the city can do that: Facing an economic fallout from the coronavirus, Mayor Frey recently unveiled a budget proposal that includes a $179 million budget for police, a nearly $14 million cut from the approved 2020 budget. But Frey has asked the city council to fund three new cadet classes in 2021 — about 104 officers — including one to replace a 2020 class scheduled for this fall that was canceled.
Frey said in a statement to The Washington Post that he remains concerned about “capacity challenges” facing the police department. But he said the new cadet classes would allow the city to “bring in new officers who ascribe to our vision for the department.”


Yet because of the city’s police training policies, members of those cadet classes, if approved by the city council, would not become full-time officers for more than a year.
Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the city’s police union, has said officers face a new level of danger and “intense scrutiny” since Floyd’s killing, something that is driving potential recruits away from the profession. Kroll did not respond to requests from The Post for comment.
Arradondo has taken to comparing what is happening now to “the Murderapolis years” in the 1990s as he agonizes over the city’s homicide rate.
“We’re at a critical juncture right now,” the police chief recently told one neighborhood group. “I will move heaven and earth to make sure all of our communities are safe, but I’m going to need resources for that.”
The mayor’s proposed budget boosts funding for the Office of Violence Prevention, a city effort that has put groups of activists on the streets to de-escalate tensions between gang members and other groups that many blame for the escalation in violence. But some residents question whether that’s enough.
A police officer photographs a shattered window after a shoe store was hit by gunfire in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood in June. Multiple people were shot, one fatally, when gunfire broke out.

A police officer photographs a shattered window after a shoe store was hit by gunfire in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood in June. Multiple people were shot, one fatally, when gunfire broke out. (Doug Glass/AP)
In August, community activist Spann and seven other residents from North Minneapolis sued the city, arguing that the declining number of police officers is in violation of the city charter, which requires a minimum number of officers based on population — what they estimate to be a sworn force of at least 743. The city says the case does not have merit because there are enough officers based on the city’s last official census results — in 2010, when Minneapolis was substantially smaller.
The city also downplayed police officer departures, presenting staffing numbers that include more than 90 officers who have been on long-term leave and remain on the payroll. Those officers, a recent court filing from the city pointed out, could still return to full-time status.
“This is fundamentally a political dispute between parties who disagree about policing now in Minneapolis and its future,” assistant city attorney Gregory Sautter wrote in court filings. “Resolution of this dispute would best be served through the political process.”
Arradondo has asked for about $500,000 to hire temporary officers for the rest of the year, and he said he probably will ask for similar funding for temporary officers in 2021 — leading to an angry exchange with city council members questioning why the police department needs more funding while criticizing the department’s overall strategy in dealing with the crime surge.
“With over 70 homicides in our city, what is going to work?” said Jeremiah Ellison, a council member who represents northern Minneapolis. “All I’m hearing is, ‘We don’t need a strategy, we don’t need a plan, shut up and pay us.’ I’m sick of it.”
Steve Fletcher, who represents an area that includes downtown Minneapolis, asked why the department needs money to hire temporary officers “given how much less policing” the city had seen under a department with “the highest funding it has ever had.” Fletcher questioned Arradondo’s spending, prompting an angry response from the normally staid police chief.
“I have 74 people who are no longer alive in this city because they’ve been killed. I’ve got almost 500 people who have been shot and wounded in the city,” Arradondo said, noting that budget debates won’t stop “the bloodshed” in Minneapolis. “It’s not like I’m sitting on a treasure chest of an exuberant amount of money that’s not being utilized.”
Council member Lisa Goodman, who also represents part of downtown, described the contentious back-and-forth between her colleagues and the police chief as “embarrassing.”
“It’s pretty simple,” Goodman said. “This is an effort just to get a few more feet on the street, and those feet on the street, to a lot of victims, really, really matter.”
The city council voted 7 to 6 to fund temporary officers in Friday’s city council meeting.
Amid concerns about civil unrest, the city has pointed to its existing mutual-aid agreements with several regional law enforcement agencies. Three times in the past two months, Gov. Tim Walz (D) has deployed members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota State Patrol to help guard the city, including last month when a judge threw out one of the murder charges against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck and is now charged in his killing.
State officials have been wary of commenting on Minneapolis’s dwindling police staff and whether that raises larger public safety issues for the region. But the state has sent in reinforcements before. In 1996, Gov. Arne Carlson (R) angered Minneapolis officials when he ordered dozens of state police officers and other law enforcement officials to the city for two months to help reduce the crime rate, even though the police force at the time was fully staffed.
A bloody footprint on the sidewalk after an early-morning shooting in Minneapolis’s popular Uptown nightlife area in June.

A bloody footprint on the sidewalk after an early-morning shooting in Minneapolis’s popular Uptown nightlife area in June. (Jerry Holt/AP)

'Secondary victims'​

Last month, several law enforcement agencies, including the Minneapolis police, the state patrol and other departments in Hennepin County, began a coordinated effort to stop drag-racing in downtown Minneapolis. More than two dozen people were cited or arrested. The announcement was met with mixed feelings as residents in neighborhoods hit hard by violence wondered why a similar plan of action couldn’t be deployed to stop shootings and carjackings.
“You can put together that team to go address drag racing, but you can’t put that team together to address the fact that young Black and Brown lives are being lost and killed and murdered and maimed over here in north Minneapolis?” Spann asked. “Why do those people matter and we don’t?”
Spann has tried hard to stay strong for her community, a low-income neighborhood of mostly Black residents who are among the poorest in the city. Of the more than 500 people shot in Minneapolis, over half of the cases happened on the city’s north side.
Spann used to walk around the neighborhood for exercise and to stay in touch with people. But in recent weeks, she has been too scared to go to the park, where gun battles are frequent. Inside her house, she tries to keep up, phoning neighbors and residents to make sure they are okay. Sometimes it’s so relentless, so overwhelming, that she just has to sit for a minute in silence and try to calm her nerves.
“This isn’t just my work,” she said. “This is my life.”
She worries about the lasting trauma on the community — how it might manifest in children who have been shot and survived and what effect gunfire and the fear of getting struck by bullets is having. “What is this doing to us as a community, as human beings?” Spann said. “We are all secondary victims.”
Among some Black residents, she said, there have been conflicted feelings about the push to abolish the police. Many have been harassed by officers, but they also live in a neighborhood that on some nights feels like a war zone.
“Why can’t I have police reform? Why can’t I have law and order? Why do I have to pick and choose? I should be able to have both,” Spann said.
In addition to the small boost in temporary outside officers, city council members are considering a public safety pilot program that would partner police with community groups in an attempt to stop the violence on the city’s north side. But Spann has lost confidence in city officials who she said haven’t acted quickly enough to stop the shootings that have terrorized her community.
Neighbors have started talking about patrolling the streets on their own — as they did in May when arsonists set fire to buildings in the area and police and firefighters never came. Spann has reached out to state officials and federal prosecutors to ask what law enforcement agencies can do for them because she doesn’t believe the city will ask.
“The city has failed us,” Spann said.

Washington Post Article
 

Cheshire_Kat

Sr. Moderator: Music, P&S
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COVER STORY | Denver's deadly crime wave swells amid a 'perfect storm of circumstances.'​


Alternate view of Denver's Crime Statistics


  • 13 min to read






Crime scene of cold blood murder

(Illustration by Draftfolio, istock)






Denver has reached a boiling point.
Gripped by a global pandemic, soaring unemployment, unrest from racial injustice and an unending homeless crisis, residents are scared. They’re angry. They’re stressed and uneasy.
Increasingly, they are also dying, as the city faces yet another setback: a surge in shootings and killings.

Meanwhile, an embattled police department is caught between demands that they crack down harder on every crime and the cries to defund the police. Some worry law enforcement’s pandemic-era policies — curbing low-level arrests, allowing early release of certain prisoners and breaking up fewer homeless encampments — could be behind the bloodshed. Others point to the pandemic and the systemic issues — poverty, racial disparities, distrust of police and the prevalence of firearms — that have come to a head as a result.
It’s too soon to draw conclusions. Criminologists estimate it could take years to explain the trends. What is known, however, is that “a perfect storm” is upon us and no one can tell when clearer skies will emerge.
“We have not faced these types of challenges,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said in an interview with Colorado Politics. “We’ve had a pandemic with the flu of 1918; we’ve had economic strife with the Great Recession and the Great Depression; we’ve had civil unrest in the late 60s, early 70s. But we haven’t had them all at the same time,” he said. “All of this divide that just keeps compounding on one another has really, I believe, contributed to the types of challenges that we are seeing in town.”




From left, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, special operations division commander Patrick Phelan and Greggory LaBerge, head of the department's crime laboratory, at a city event in May 2020.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press file
Troublesome trends

This year is ominously positioned to be the city’s bloodiest in years.

Shootings and killings were up 50% between January and mid-July compared with the same period last year, data from the Denver Police Department shows. At least 48 homicides have occurred as of Aug. 3, and by that time in 2018 — Denver’s deadliest year in a decade — the city had recorded 36.



Those numbers were down in Denver in the first three months of the year. But starting in April, nearly two months prior to protests, Pazen said there were “dramatic increases” in shootings compared to a three-year baseline, and killings have continued to climb since.

Often caught in the crossfire are the city’s “most vulnerable,” Pazen said, people of color living in underserved neighborhoods, including East Colfax, Elyria-Swansea, Green Valley Ranch and Montbello.

What’s worse, they’re also young: At least nine kids have died by homicide this year, DPD reports.

“The rise in crime, particularly youth violent crime, is unacceptable,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said July 27 during the annual State of the City address. “I will never allow it to be normalized in our city.”

“We are seeing some pretty heavy violence and some pretty heavy crimes being committed,” said Murphy Robinson, executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety, during a briefing in front of the Denver City Council’s Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee. “It is quite scary.”

Too frequently as of late, Pazen said, “people are resorting to the highest levels of violence” over some “pretty minor issues,” a pattern he said is “never OK in a civil society.”

Denver is far from facing these issues alone, however. Major cities across the country are also in distress.

Violent crime in Dallas increased more than 14% from April to June, the Associated Press reports, and homicides in Philadelphia jumped 20% for the week ending July 5 over the same period last year. In Chicago, homicides were up nearly 40% in the last week of June and the first week of July compared with last year, according to CNN, and in Los Angeles, there were 19 homicides between June 21 and July 5, compared to nine the year prior, the LA Times reports.

Some smaller cities aren’t immune, either, including Colorado Springs and Aurora. Twenty-two people were killed in Colorado Springs during the first seven months of 2020, a 57% spike compared to the same time period last year. In Aurora, at least 23 people were killed from January through July, a surge of 53% compared with the same time period last year, according to The Denver Post.

Still, the increases don't detract from the country's decades-long improvements in violent crime, which has fallen sharply since the 1990s. Cities seeing spikes today are still relatively safer than they were several years ago.

For countless reasons, 2020 is proving to be an "anomaly," experts say.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited a “different set of emotions,” Pazen explained. “Not just here in Denver, not just in Colorado, but throughout the country," cities are withering under “fear, stress, anxiety, anger — related to the political divide, related to the global pandemic, related to the economic challenges and certainly related to the social issues we are grappling with.”

‘Over the economic edge’

This year has dealt a “perfect storm of circumstances,” one of the strongest factors being joblessness from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, said Paul Taylor, an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

Joblessness is a factor correlated across time with an increase in gang crime, he said, including violent crime, and is “disproportionately impacting younger and minority communities.”

Urban Peak, a Denver-based nonprofit serving youth experiencing homelessness, was funding about 65% of young people's rent at the start of the outbreak; that number had shot up to 95% by early August due to the loss of jobs, according to Urban Peak CEO Christina Carlson.

Across Denver, nearly 554,000 unemployment claims were filed between March 7 and July 20, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

“Research has shown a great deal of correlation and causation between economic conditions and crime, especially violent crime. As the economy turns down, crime turns up,” said Andre Adeli, a former public defender in Denver and a criminal justice professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

The “overwhelming majority” of those typically charged with crimes, Adeli noted, are poor and are eligible or may already be receiving public assistance.

“Economic downturns send folks over the economic edge,” he explained, “and they turn to criminal behavior to either get back to where they were or become violent in their inability to redirect their anger and frustration at the unfortunate turn in their lives.”

Denver has been gripped by a homeless crisis that started well before the pandemic, but the loss of jobs and looming rents means the desperation could get worse.

On July 23, one man was killed and two were injured during a shooting at a homeless encampment near the Colorado Capitol. A month earlier, a man experiencing homelessness was stabbed to death at the National Western Complex, which has been converted into a large emergency homeless shelter for men during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the city is conducting encampment sweeps that send people into residential neighborhoods to find somewhere else to sleep as officials scramble to find a stopgap solution.

“Just like we saw with the shooting, those that prey on vulnerable populations and crime issues surrounding the vulnerable populations are something that we are very concerned with and also impacts on neighborhoods as well,” including break-ins and burglaries, Pazen said. “We have to work together to try to address these social harms that often lead to crime issues.”

“Joblessness has an impact on services that are being provided as well,” Taylor said, with some care facilities being short-staffed or even closed due to the fallout from COVID-19.

Libraries, which have historically served as safe havens rich with resources for unhoused populations, have also closed their doors out of pandemic precautions.

It’s true for the homeless population, Taylor said, but it’s also true for young people, many of whom were involved in school programs that were cut short or ended altogether.

‘Kids killing kids’

LaKeshia Hodge is the executive director of Struggle of Love, a nonprofit based in Montbello that serves disadvantaged youth and families. Her organization, a recent recipient of the city’s microgrants to reduce youth violence, beefed up its staff to help with enormous community needs, from running a food pantry to keeping kids safe.

Hodge described a phone call her organization received just a day earlier.

Kids who lived five or six blocks away from the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver in Park Hill were afraid to walk there, so they called Struggle of Love to pick them up and give them a ride.

“They are that afraid that they don’t even want to walk the streets in their neighborhood because of all of the violence,” Hodge said. “We don’t know if people are being targeted, if it’s an isolated incident, if it’s gang-related … it’s just crazy.”

When Adeli was a public defender, he often represented young people charged with violent crimes, including murder.

“The sentiment that I heard consistently from them was: It’s hard not to look guilty when everyone is watching you, and it’s hard not to get sick, tired and angry about everyone watching you,” he said. “As a result, there is always a simmer ready to boil over.”

Adolescence itself is “already a simmer,” he said, but for people of color, especially young men, “the heat seems to be always on, and without protective factors, sometimes they catch on fire and it spreads.”

A lack of supervision and guidance from family and mentors, he said, can act as gasoline.

"Surges in hostility among youth can become exacerbated when the adults in their lives," such as parents, teachers and counselors, "become distracted by economic downturns," he said. "The more severe the downturn, the less supervision and opportunities to notice changes that need interventions. Gang affiliations increase, turf battles emerge, gun sales go up, and the next thing you know you have kids killing kids."

There's also a desperate need to feel safe, a teenager named Maria explained to Hancock in a taped discussion about youth violence.

"A lot of young people go out and get weapons or guns because they feel like that's the only way to protect themselves. If they have a gun, then you need one, too," she said. "You gotta protect yourself and your people."

The latest data for Denver shows that there has been a nearly 50% increase, or about 80,000 more firearm background checks conducted through June this year compared with last year, Pazen said, signifying record levels of gun sales during the pandemic.

Those guns are also getting snatched.

In the first six months of this year, 327 guns were reported stolen, DPD data shows, representing a nearly 27% increase in gun thefts compared to the three-year average. Many of those guns were stolen by kids.


In February, the city handed out 1,200 free gun locks to help fight the issue.





A portion of the 1,200 gun locks supplied by Project ChildSafe and the Denver Police Department. The locks will be handed out across multiple locations in Denver as part of the city's multipronged plan to help curb youth gun violence.
Alayna Alvarez, Colorado Politics
“Youth are getting access to unsecured guns, and incidents are escalating with tragic results," Hancock said at the time. “We want to empower every resident to make a difference. Grabbing a free gun lock and securing a weapon is one action we can all take right now to keep young people safe.”

Chris Jandro, who owns Hammer Down Firearms in Wheat Ridge, said in February that Denver’s “feel-good” initiative is “not going to make any impact.”

Instead, Jandro said, Hancock should talk to gun dealers and try to put forward laws “that would actually have an effect on gun violence.”

Fewer incarcerations

The city is locking up fewer people.

The Denver Police Department reports about 30% of recent violent crime was committed by people who had come in contact with the city or state's criminal justice system and were released not long after.

The number of arrests and people behind bars has been reduced, primarily to curb the spread of the coronavirus within jails and prisons, which have proven to be hotspots in Colorado and across the nation.

Arrests this year are down by 45% year over year, and the number of people in custody is down by 42% year over year as well. People of color, however, are still disproportionately represented in a city that is overwhelmingly white.

Denver's law enforcement has conducted “a lot more cite and release” of lower-level offenders than in the past, newly appointed Sheriff Elias Diggins told the Denver City Council safety committee. Officials have also prioritized their early release, as well as the early release of those with less than two months on their sentence, prisoners over 60, immunocompromised offenders and pregnant inmates.

Robinson has repeatedly expressed his commitment to keep inmate populations low post-pandemic.

“If I had the ability to decrease the jail that quickly and there were people in jail that can go out into society that quickly,” Robinson said, “my question is this, and I continue to ask this question every day: Why did we have them in jail in the first place?”

Robinson, who was appointed to lead the safety department in May, said he is challenging Diggins and other leaders in the criminal justice system to focus on that question as well.

More than a decade ago, under former Mayor John Hickenlooper’s leadership, the city adopted what is called "broken windows" policing, the notion that cracking down on minor criminal activity, like a broken window, will prevent more serious crimes down the line.

Hickenlooper told CPR in June that it was a “brief experiment” following the 2003 police shooting of Paul Childs, a Black 15-year-old developmentally disabled boy. “I don’t think it was successful,” he said.

Researchers at the time were skeptical, but now the consensus tends to be that the policing strategy is fruitless at best and had deepened disparities at worst.

“We did not see it as being effective back then,” Pazen said, “nor do we try to emulate any of that.”

Republican state Sen. John Cooke from Greeley, a retired sheriff for Weld County, said the spike in deadly crime is not the failure of law enforcement.

"The police are doing their job," he said. "I think the legislature is to blame largely for the increase because of sentencing reform, of letting criminals out early, of reducing bonds. It's a joke.

"I don't know when Democrats are going to start to realize that when you let people out of prison, you let violent criminals out early or you don't sentence them like they should be, they are going to commit crimes when they get out," Cooke told Colorado Politics in a phone interview.

Residents concerned that a long-term strategy to jail fewer people could threaten their community are correct, Adeli said. “Their communities are in danger, and now can be an excellent opportunity for them to step up and partner with the youth, particularly the males, to create constructive opportunities and safer communities."

"We have to understand that the place for violent offenders is in jail," Robinson told Colorado Politics. But for people who commit nonviolent crimes, "I'm looking for an alternative response from the judicial system and an alternative response by, frankly, my law enforcement officers that will allow for us to think of things a little differently."

A search for solutions





In this April 9, 2020, photo, a Tesla police car sits in front of the City/County Building after red and white lights were illuminated to show support and gratitude for first responders and medical personnel during the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Denver.
David Zalubowski, Associated Press file
Since Pazen was appointed by Hancock to police chief in 2018, his focus has been on “precision policing,” using Census tract data on poverty, public health, education and more to understand specific neighborhood needs.

The needs of the city’s affluent Cherry Creek neighborhood, for example, are vastly different than the challenges faced in low-income neighborhoods, like Sun Valley. As those needs are better understood, it becomes clearer, he said, how best to connect residents with city services, nonprofits and faith-based groups to help meet those needs.

Robinson is also reimagining the connection between law enforcement and community.

After racial justice protests gripped the city, Robinson began working to address the public outcries for systemic change, including creating the Office of Criminal Justice Transformation and Policy. His goal for the new division is to “spearhead some of the community-led efforts” that come out of task forces set up to re-envision policing and draft and implement those new policies.

Robinson's boss is, too. Last year, Hancock convened the Youth Violence Action Prevention Table, led by City Attorney Kristin Bronson and members of his administration, to work with youth to address gaps and opportunities in youth violence prevention and intervention efforts and come up with a “community-driven strategy” to address the problem from “a public health perspective, not just a law enforcement perspective.”

Taylor, the assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Colorado Denver, echoed the importance of prioritizing mental health, particularly during the pandemic, which requires people to be distanced from each other to prevent further spread. Isolation is a trigger for many struggles, including depression and loneliness.

Researchers put together national models using data collected after major events, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and economic downturns, and found a likely increase in suicides, overdose deaths and substance use disorders.

Denver is experiencing a surge in overdose deaths from fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that’s 50 times more potent than heroin.

Between January and May, the city withered under a 282% increase in fentanyl-related overdose fatalities compared with the same time period last year, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment reports.

The city’s four-year-old co-responder program and newly created Support Team Assisted Response pilot program are funded by the Caring for Denver Foundation and dispatch mental health professionals and paramedics, respectively, to non-threatening 911 calls alongside or in place of an armed officer.

The overarching goal of the programs is to shift the city toward treating people more like patients than prisoners.

In late July, the Caring for Denver Foundation announced $1.7 million in grants for the Denver Department of Public Safety, the Denver Sheriff Department, the Denver County Court and the District Attorney’s Office.

Denver’s safety department received a three-year grant totaling $539,000. Most of that money will go toward a full-time and part-time social worker in Denver Public Schools to provide “universal and targeted” interventions for youth struggling with substance misuse, as well as a part-time trauma specialist who will work with partner schools to implement trauma-informed practices within the schools, according to DOS spokesperson Kelli Christensen.

The remaining $46,325 will fund Denver Health’s Substance Abuse Treatment Education and Prevention Program, which Christensen said will be available to youth in schools or in the community.

The Denver Sheriff Department received a one-year $340,000 grant, which Diggins told Colorado Politics will “enhance and support” programs for those in custody through case management services.

“As we strive to return our fellow residents back to our communities better than how they arrived, we will continue to look for funding and partnerships that have the same goal,” he said in a statement.

The Denver County Court will receive a two-year grant for a total of $600,000, and the District Attorney’s Office will receive a one-year grant for $300,000.

With that money, the DA’s office plans to double the number of accepted diversion cases from 60 to 120 and to expand services to clients, including referrals to mental health and substance treatment services, as well as offering linkages to sustainable employment opportunities.

“Our Adult Diversion Program has been very successful in keeping people charged with nonviolent crimes out of the criminal justice system,” Denver DA Beth McCann told Colorado Politics in a statement. “That program is providing an alternative to incarceration and as one recent graduate said, helping people ‘grow to see their own light.’ ”

Democratic state Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver, who spearheaded the Caring for Denver ballot initiative in 2018 and now serves as the foundation's board chair, said, “When we don’t adequately fund mental health and substance misuse, we pay for it in the criminal justice system. These funded programs focus on care rather than incarceration.”

Answers in community

Caring for Denver also granted $5 million to 13 local nonprofit organizations, the majority of whom are run by people of color, that are working to address racial and ethnic disparities within the criminal justice system "by reflecting the community they serve and using community authored solutions," Caring for Denver’s executive director Lorez Meinhold told Colorado Politics in an email.

All grantees will be working toward and reporting on impacts made around lowering entry into the justice system, reducing recidivism, and improving mental health and substance misuse supports post-release.

Community is key to solving crime, criminal justice experts agree.

Small programs can carry "a lot of currency in the community with young people, which law enforcement doesn't have," said Christie Donner, the executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, "but it just needs to get to scale and it needs to be separate from a criminal justice response, because it can be very dangerous for community people if they're seen to be aligned with police when they try to do these kinds of street-level interventions."

Without major investments in strategies rooted in community, Donner said, the city will never see change. A number of strategies were tried to stem the so-called "Summer of Violence" of 1993, she said, when youths involved in gang activity caused numerous crimes in the city.

"It feels like we're just kind of trying to repeat the s*** that we did 20 years ago that didn't work, you know, putting a task force together, increasing surveillance and suppression on young people — predominantly young men of color — routing them through the criminal justice system and trying to deal with it that way," she said. "We have never really deployed community-based strategies in any way to scale."

"If people want to reduce crime, we need to invest broadly in communities by creating positive and constructive opportunities for people through community centers, nonprofits to help with job training and placement, community gardens, volunteers, and I could go on," Adeli echoed. “Community policing is not only about a change in the police but also a change in the community. Sometimes the police lead, but that doesn’t mean that the community cannot.”

“The police department can’t do this alone, and the community can’t do this alone,” Pazen agreed. “We have to work together."
 

Xorkoth

🎨 ARTministrator 🎨
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Good lord, that twitter feed is making me angry, I wish I hadn't clicked on it. Raging conservatives suddenly acting outraged that "thousands have died of covid every day since Biden came into office". The hypocrisy...

But yeah that shit isn't going to help anyone, and is an example of going too far.
 

JessFR

Sr. Moderator: AADD, H&R, TDS
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Good lord, that twitter feed is making me angry, I wish I hadn't clicked on it. Raging conservatives suddenly acting outraged that "thousands have died of covid every day since Biden came into office". The hypocrisy...

But yeah that shit isn't going to help anyone, and is an example of going too far.

In my experience there is no idea so good or enlightened that it can't be twisted into something horrible one the fanatics get ahold of it.
 

Zephyn

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Sort of off topic, but might I suggest the book "the new jim crow". It discusses the drug war. And what it has done creating cycles of poverty among minorities. Going back to racist stop and frisk policies plus mandatory minimums, the cia flooding ghettos with crack cocaine, etc. I often hear people state that they were in poverty too and didn't sell drugs. Although a ton of you did, I want to highlight the fact that if you were born in a ghetto with a father in prison for trying to escape poverty and stuck at 14 years old trying to help your mom raise your 3 baby sisters, and your only option was to sling crack. But what I really want to bring up considering the majority of people IN prison are black, is that they are still in slavery:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.".


.
In my experience there is no idea so good or enlightened that it can't be twisted into something horrible one the fanatics get ahold of it.
Fanatic here can confirm
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...
Raging conservatives suddenly acting outraged that "thousands have died of covid every day since Biden came into office". The hypocrisy...

This is off topic, but it is more mockery than hypocrisy. The deaths the progressives want to pin on Trump without holding governors accountable for their more direct control over citizens lives, this opened the door for the mockery of Biden. Not saying it's right.
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...
WHISTLEBLOWER: Coca-Cola Forces Employees to Complete Online Training Telling Them to "Try to be Less White" (PHOTOS + VIDEO)


To be less white is to:
  • Be less oppressive
  • Be less arrogant
  • Be less certain
  • Be less defensive
  • Be less arrogant
  • Be more humble
  • Listen
  • Believe
  • Break with apathy
  • Break with white solidarity


= = = = = = =

While some of those goals are universally desired (Listen, Be more humble less arrogant, etc), I am offended they label that as white behaviour, when in fact people of all races exhibit such behaviours, the good and bad ones.
 

Xorkoth

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Yeah I gotta say, I don't jive with a push to "be less white". I do jive with recognizing that our society has historically been built by and for white people, and that though we have made a lot of progress, there is still progress to be made. But there is nothing wrong with being white. A lot of people are born as white people, it just is what it is. A lot of people who are white grew up in a different subculture than people who aren't white. That's okay, what isn't okay is oppressing other people or pretending that everything is super equal for everyone and bigotry has been solved, hooray.

Like what seems to happen with literally everything all the time, people pushing too hard fuck shit up. There are enough scared white people thinking that recognizing white privilege means "white genocide" already... stuff like this just makes it seem more like that's the case.

I'm white, I like who I am, I'm not ashamed of it, why should I be, it's just who I happened to be born as. I can be white, and still recognize the inequities that still exist. I don't need to "be less white", I just need to have my eyes open and not contribute to the problems of the world by trying to suggest that other people who have experienced a lifetime of bigotry against them are lying or imagining things or mistaken.
 
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