FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 13, 2021
LANSING—One Love Global will announce a bold goal for 2022 at an October 16, 2021 Community Conversation on Violence, 2-4 PM, at their 3525 S. MLK Blvd, Suite B, space and on zoom.
So far this year, 31 people have been killed in Metro Lansing, and many of the homicides are a product of gun violence. Of those victims, nine were children, one as young as 3 years old.
Making meaning of this statistic is fraught and too often fails to humanize the community members we’ve lost.
Law enforcement uses it to bolster their own budgets and double down on centuries-long narratives that policing equals safety. Angela Waters Austin, CEO, knows how violent that argument is: “Police play upon the fears of residents with racist tropes about Black criminality that are both deliberate and manipulative. Fear is used for control and to avoid accountability because no one asks if all of the spending actually makes communities safer. If this past year is any measure of whether $50 million is a sound investment in violence prevention or reduction, the answer is no.”
Youth organizers know that the root causes of violence, including white supremacy, economies of exploitation, and more, warrant more thoughtful responses than pouring resources into policing unexamined. Youth members of Freedom Summer and Peace & Prosperity Youth Action Movement drew connections between gun violence and police brutality in #WhyThemShoes, a social media campaign and art project to raise awareness about gun violence and the need for community-driven solutions. To introduce their call-to-action, they explained, “It was created to mourn the victims of gun violence within Detroit and Lansing and to call attention to the issue [...] We are calling on everyone to further educate themselves and advocate for moving funding from the police to the community.”
The questions the youth surfaced are the same ones that One Love Global, partners, and more than 200 residents of the Greater Lansing Area have been grappling with for more than a year throughout Lansing People’s Assemblies. Since the very first gathering, the convenings have been focused on the questions: what does community safety mean? And, what will it take to get there? The July 18, 2020 assembly generated over 80 ideas and actions for change一none involved increasing the size or scope of the criminal-legal system.
The most recent assemblies in the fall of 2021 have focused on the power of prosecutors in partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice. Data, focused on just a fraction of the prison-industrial complex, revealed devastating outcomes for Black residents. Notably:
Black people in Lansing are 1.7x more likely than white people to be stopped by police. Once stopped, Black people are 3x more likely to be searched.
Out of those cases referred to the prosecutor’s office by police, Black people are 5.1x more likely than white people to have a case referred.
Lower-income people are 1.7x more likely to be referred by police to the prosecutor’s office than higher-income people.
Lansing’s population is 11% Black people and 70% white people, but 37% of misdemeanor cases were filed against Black people compared to 51% of cases filed against white people. For felonies, 50% cases were filed against Black people compared to 41% cases filed against white people.
The overrepresentation of Black people is greater among young adults (ages 17-25) than all other adults. Black young adults are 2.3x more likely to have a case filed against them than white young adults in felony cases, and are 1.1x more likely than white young adults in misdemeanor cases.
Black people are overrepresented among young people who were under the age of 17 at the time of their offense In 2019, Black youth made up 100% of 9 cases disposed of as guilty for people under the age of 17.
In 2019, Black women are 3.6x more likely than white women to have warrant requests submitted against them.
It has led to important decisions in the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office to handle cases in new ways to reduce disparities, without compromising public safety.
All of these issues are connected. It is past time to invest in bold, creative solutions to decrease violence and increase community safety that focus on care over increased policing一knowing that what exists now isn’t working, leveraging the lived experiences and wisdom of everyday people, and centering those those who are most impacted by our current systems. We want to create the conditions where children can live their lives fully. However, It will require a collective effort.
We invite you, your family, friends, and neighbors to join in the Community Conversation on October 16.
One Love Global’s mission is to transform communities so Black children experience justice, peace, healing, opportunity, and abundance. We envision global liberation and reparations where Black people experience radical love of self, community, and planet.