THE INTERFAITH ALLIANCE OF ROCHESTER
+People of Faith Working Together For Justice in Public Policy+
Board Meeting Minutes
October 16, 2014
Attending: D. Barnes, D. Bird, B. Elwell, C. Garman, M. Howden, H. Ibrahim, E. Johnson, G. L'Esperance, M. Morich, H. Parreño, P. Peters, W. Spilly, G. Strother, D. White, M. Wienk;
Guest: The Rev. Lewis Stewart
1. Opening Reflection: Read by B. Elwell, on “The Common Things of Life as Uncommon,” written by the Rev. Richard Gilbert.
2. Minutes: approved unanimously.
3. Presentation: The Rev. Lewis Stewart was invited to speak about police / minority community relations before other business was to be conducted. (see notes below).
4. Organization Business:
- Treasurer’s Report: D. Bird reported that there is a total of $3,897.01 in our account.
- Proposal to send a $50 honorarium to the United Christian Leadership Ministries in gratitude for the Rev. Stewart’s presentation; moved by D. Bird, seconded by E. Johnson. Approved unanimously.
- Proposal for a letter to Federal officials by TIAR in support of funding for the Child Health Insurance Program, especially for those who fall through the cracks; moved by H. Parreño, seconded by M. Morich. Approved unanimously.
- Renewal of TIAR sponsorship for Human Rights Day at DUPC, December 8, 2014, which includes a potluck dinner. Topic: “Capitalism vs Human Rights.” Speakers: David Cay Johnston, Paola Macas Betchart, Colin O’Malley, Danielle Ponder and Ream Kidane; moderator: Denise Young. Moved by E. Johnson, seconded by M. Wienk. Approved unanimously.
- Support of the Executive Committee’s recommendation to send a special donation of $200 to Covenant United Methodist Church, in honor of the Rev. Paul Womack’s retirement. Paul is a founding member and former president of TIAR, and served CUMC as pastor. Moved by D. Bird, seconded by H. Parreño. Approved unanimously.
- Regarding Proposition 1 on the November ballot to change redistricting: after a brief discussion it was decided that TIAR has not determined a position on this amendment.
- TIAR sponsorship for the Children’s Weekend, Oct. 17-19 was approved.
- M. Howden has agreed to chair the Nominating Committee.
- G. L’Esperance has agreed to co-chair the Annual Meeting Planning Committee; P. Goodman is considering also becoming co-chair.
- Sunday, November 9: Witness for Palestine $10 cultural event: Celebrate Palestine at Asbury First United Methodist Church, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. It is intended to be a first-hand exploration of Palestinian food, music, and literature.
More information at http://www.witnesspalestinerochester.org/2014/celebrate_palestine.htm
- Saturday, November 15: “Community Celebration of Cultures” for the Jones Park, Edgerton, & Maplewood Areas; 2-6:30 pm at Lake Ave. Baptist Church, 72 Ambrose St. (between Lake Ave. and Jones Park), as a response to recent violence between minority groups. Peacemaking activities for all; cultural dances & songs; bring food to share from your cultural / ethnic tradition. Free and open to the public.
- Monday, December 8: Human Rights Day at DUPC, including a potluck dinner. Topic: “Capitalism vs Human Rights” (as noted above).
Notes from the Rev. Stewart’s presentation:
Background: He has served as a prison chaplain from 1988-1993 at Groveland; worked with the Rev. Raymond Graves who advocated for police reform; served for 9 years at the Five Points correctional facility near Waterloo.
Concern about the interaction between police and the African-American and Hispanic communities. One sees primarily black and brown faces being warehoused by the prison-industrial complex in rural locations to upgrade their local economy. A Coalition for Police Reform is making a team effort to avoid another Ferguson case here.
- Make police accountable, e.g., by using police body cameras as a first step. The city is considering this.
- Form an independent civilian review board with subpoena power. Dialog with Police Locust Union needed.
- A public review of police activities. Suspicion exists that police are acting in revenge for the death of Officer Pierson by harassing young black men. In the local Clem Long case, Chief Ciminelli has requested videos of the incident; one video demonstrated that it was another man, not Long, who struck an officer with a broom handle.
What the public thinks does matter. Once we have a clear record from body-worn cameras, this can serve as a training tool to improve police performance. A study reported from the city of Rialto, CA, found reduced incidence, with both citizens and the police on best behavior.
Policies and procedures need to be developed regarding
- Filming encounters from first call to point of resolution; having cameras turned on at police discretion makes no sense
- Public access to footage, taking into account privacy concerns: e.g., in a case of the rape of a child
- Legal questions, including involvement of the DA and Public Defender
- Need to prevent editing of film
- How long and where to keep such records
Adam McFadden, who chairs the Public Safety Committee of the City Council, estimates the cost at about $1 M.