On Tuesday, January 11th at 5:30 pm, members of the Bending the Moral Arc Courageous Conversations groups met with the Princeton Civil Rights Commission at their invitation. At question is the Civil Rights Commission’s proposal to create a civilian review board to increase police accountability in the face of disparate Princeton Police excessive force.
At this link you will find data that the Civil Rights Commission believes supports their proposal.
BMA/Courageous Conversations members added their perspectives based on its Policing the Police Conversation, lived experience, and review of developing “reimagining” police news reports and research. Karen S. Brown, Tracy Eskridge, Denyse Leslie, Claire Mulry and Cameron Stout participated in the discussion with Commission members Caroline Clark, Lew Maltby, and Patricia Soll.
Planned next steps include sharing the civilian review board proposal and other information with Witherspoon and Nassau congregations, our Sessions, relevant Committees such as the Mass Incarceration Task Force and the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow. BMA members were generally supportive of a Princeton Police Civilian Review Board, yet pressed for the Commission to embrace bigger and bolder reimagining Police solutions. A civilian review board with teeth should be the goal.
On Sunday, January 16th at 3:00 pm, Witherspoon and Nassau Churches will join 2 other “paired” Matthew 25 churches — Harlem Presbyterian Church (Harlem NY) and Northminster Presbyterian Church (Indianapolis, IN) to begin a 4-church conversation on race and social justice through the vehicle of discussing Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of our Discontents. If you’ve started Caste or read it many times, this is a great opportunity for Witherspoon members to join in what should prove to be a lively monthly discussion and a rich collaboration with 2 Matthew 25 Presbyterian congregations that have been paired for several years under the umbrella of Undoing Racism.The Synod of the Northeast has invited this collaboration to write an Innovation Grant to fund Next Steps / Mission(s) the 4-church effort proposes. We have 5 volunteers from the BMA/Courageous Conversations small groups — Ben Colbert, Denyse Leslie, Jane Holmquist, Claire Mulry, Holly Hardaway. We would like to have a total of 10 — 5 Witherspoon; 5 Nassau. If you are interested in joining this collaboration contact Denyse Leslie (email).
All those interested in learning more about the Bending the Moral Arc Courageous Conversations initiative, please review the November 30th webinar, and other materials at the Presbyterian Mission Agency Scattered Church website. Audi Peal, Ben Colbert, Barbara Flythe, Grace Kimbrough, Elsie McKee, Denyse Leslie, Michelle Peal, Tracy Eskridge, and Cameron Stout are Witherspoon members of the 2 small groups.