Building a city where every family feels safe begins with listening. Through my work with community non-profit organizations, I’ve had the chance to listen to immigrants, people of color, and youth of all backgrounds. Too many of our community members have told me the same thing -- in our city, they don’t feel safe.
People of color are disproportionately apprehended, arrested, and harmed by law enforcement. Our City Council approved a budget for 2017 that includes the hiring of 15 new police officers, but increasing police presence alone won’t keep our communities safe. Rather, we need to invest in long-term, community-led crime prevention strategies that address the violence, domestic abuse, and mental illness that are at the root of many arrests. Mandatory implicit bias and de-escalation training among all members of our police force must be prioritized immediately. Our Ward is one of the most diverse in the city, and we deserve a Council Member who will assert, loud and clear, that Black Lives Matter.
I believe that youth in our city deserve second chances. I’ll lead the way to develop more restorative justice programs that focus on rehabilitation, not criminalization. Too many of our youth struggle to find steady housing or a stable job after being convicted for low-level crimes. This leads to repeat offenses, drug use, and further violence. If we don’t support those who are struggling on the fringes of society, they will be lost. It is our responsibility to make sure that one bad decision does not lead to a lifelong cycle of injustice.
We must also bring justice to Muslim youth, who are insidiously targeted by the Department of Justice’s “Building Community Resilience” program - more commonly known as “Countering Violent Extremism” or CVE. Under the guise of preventing terrorism, CVE stigmatizes the Muslim youth community through increased and unjust surveillance. Over 50 Minnesota Muslim organizations signed a letter against the program when it first launched. Yet our current Council Member has consistently supported CVE, speaking out against it only after the election of visibly Islamophobic leaders in 2016. When our neighbors told me that CVE was wrong, I listened. It’s time for a leader who will actively involve our communities in the decision making process, and who won’t sacrifice our youth for federal funds.