FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2020
One Love Global, Liberation PAC and Black Lives Matter Lansing hold Lansing’s first People’s Assembly for Community Members to discuss Safety and Interactions with Law Enforcement
Lansing, MI -- Lansing residents held a virtual People’s Assembly on reimagining public safety on Saturday, organized by One Love Global, Liberation PAC and Black Lives Matter Lansing.
This People’s Assembly provided an opportunity for Lansing residents to discuss current safety conditions and relationships with law enforcement in the city and to explore new ways to redefine safety.
A People’s Assembly is a gathering to address essential social issues and/or questions pertinent to a community. The purpose of an assembly is to hear from the people and to develop solutions, strategies, action plans and timelines to address key social issues. The People’s Assembly model comes from the People’s Advocacy Institute in Jackson, MS.
Some of the key questions posed to Lansing residents Saturday included, What does safety mean to you? What values do we need to hold to achieve collective safety? What systems need to be improved? What else needs to happen?
Residents’ definitions of safety ranged across mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, and systemic qualities. For example: Safety is the freedom from even thinking about safety. Safety should be communal, where everyone is deserving of safety. Safety looks like systems having your best interest in mind. Safety is where we don’t have to worry about our Black and Brown children driving. Safety is going to look different for everybody.
"I think shared humanity is key," one resident said, "Someone else's safety and wellbeing is tied up, linked, necessary for my own, and vice versa."
There was general consensus that basic needs must be met for people to be and feel safe. This includes ensuring access to housing, healthy food, clean water, quality healthcare, and decent jobs. These issues sustain racial injustice.
Residents cited the systems that are part of the safety ecosystem that must be equitably transformed as well: education and support for youth, economic planning, the justice system, and health care. Several stressed that racism is a root cause of many of the problems within these systems, creating cultures that are violent and punitive.
“When I think of safety,” one resident said, “I think of it as I think about peace; without justice, there is no peace. We need economic justice, social and racial justice. If we don’t tackle the wide range of justice issues, we won’t feel safe or be at peace.”
Another person shared, “Because of where we’ve come from as people [in the Black community], I won’t feel safe until I feel that what we’ve earned won’t be taken away from us.”
Another theme was the need for accountability with leadership and a mayor that truly represents the community. Many residents expressed a desire for Andy Schor to resign. One group said that they don't believe Andy will ever truly understand racial equity. Police need to live in the community. It’s unsafe when police don’t live in Lansing. There is a need for social workers to be first-responders in a lot of situations. If people were held accountable for their actions, that would make them feel safe. There need to be resolution processes in place for accountability.
Residents also discussed the need for more residents to be involved in the city budget. This means stronger connectivity in the city region so that residents know what’s going on and how they can influence change. The city budget should not be cutting things that affect Black and Brown community; we need to ensure community needs are met. The budget ensures that collective needs are met as a community, and in our group, which is why resources should shift to BIPOC-led community organizations to ensure equity. One group talked about how we pretend that income shouldn't matter, but it is the gateway to making sure our needs are met and therefore our safety is secured. Participatory budgeting will be the focus for the next assembly in August.
Amid so much need for change, residents wanted to ensure that we find and highlight the bright spots, uplifting the good that is happening and creative possibilities for the future.
The next Lansing People’s Assembly will be Saturday, August 15, 2-4 PM via Zoom.
Recordings of the opening part of this first session are available:
Director of Transformational Leadership
Director of Capacity