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South Florida activists discuss police reform with leaders

Virtual roundtable touches on issues of use of force, defunding and disbanding of police

MIAMI, Fla. – In one camp, a push for more restrictive "use of force policies" to reduce deadly police encounters. Others are marching, demanding for the defunding and disbanding of police departments entirely and using the money to reinvest in communities.

State Representative Donna Shalala hosted a virtual roundtable discussion Wednesday that dealt with these issues about race relations.

"At the end of the day, it’s us listening to each other and understanding each other and understanding each other’s experience that will make a difference," Shalala said.

New Florida Majority Political Director Dwight Bullard said: "People have been waiting on this for hundreds of years, while watching, again, black bodies die at the hands of societal implications that have yet to be fixed."

Defund or divest? The question of policing was a big focus of the conversation.

"If someone wants to look at police budgets and see where the money is being spent and find areas where maybe money can be moved from one project to a different project that’s community based, that’s one thing," City of Miami Chief of Police Jorge Colina said.

Rodney Jacobs Jr., associate director of the City of Miami Civilian Investigative Panel, said while he's cautious about disbanding forces, he is pushing for similar oversight at the county police level.

“The same thing that they have been preaching to us, ‘stop resisting, see something, say something, work more collaboratively, appreciate our hard work’ are some of the same things that need to be said, (that they need to be) telling themselves, right now,” Jacobs said.

“We’re not going to defend bad apples anymore for the sake of the uniform. It’s to weed out the bad apples so it doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. People have had enough, It is not going to come to an end, so the best thing you can do now is to work together.”

Involved in that virtual discussion were lawmakers, community activists, chief of police and a pastor who closed the session with a prayer that called for unity, working together and trying to move this community forward.


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