Enough is Enough: We Demand Quality Policing Now

The Organization for Black Struggle 

Originally post on obs-onthemove.org, December 3, 2014.

Today American justice has failed yet again. Our legal system has denied justice to the family of Eric Garner less than forty-eight hours after President Barack Obama met with African-American activists calling for an end to police brutality and murder. Fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement we are still in pursuit of justice. We are still confronting what Dr. King called, the triple evils of militarism, racism and capitalism.

Instead of using his presidential powers to transform a culture of injustice into one of real justice, President Obama has offered us a measly $263 million dollars worth of timid, half-hearted, half-measures.

The President promises us 50,000 body cameras as if dozens of police executions have not played out live on video all across the nation. We have witnessed a police culture so steeped in racism that video footage alone is not enough to deter it. Eric Garner died on camera, and even with this evidence, he was denied justice.

The President promises us community policing, as if he cannot grasp the reality that police are recruited, trained, deployed and advanced within a racist police culture that would rather kill citizens, than serve them. This militarized police culture values property more than human lives. It does not build community or protect citizens. Instead it treats us as threats to be policed and targets to be eliminated.

The President promises us that the Department of Justice will be more stringent in their oversight of programs like the 1033 Program that grant billions of dollars to defense contractors and aim military weapons at civilians. It is as if President Obama does not understand that he should be eliminating such weapons from American streets. These deadly weapons do not belong in our communities. They are the point where militarism, capitalism and racism all come together. These programs militarize our police, who then turn around and repress black and brown communities, and anyone else who expresses their First Amendment Rights.

We call on the President to embrace our Quality Policing Initiative, which will transform police culture in this country so that the First and Fourth Amendment rights of citizens are protected. Do not waste our tax dollars on weak reforms that support a racist, militarized police culture, which would rather protect property than serve people.

The Quality Policing Initiative demands reciprocal, professional, accountable and cooperative policing in five areas of policing:

(1)     Recruitment: who is on the force;

(2)     Training: what non-violent skillsets do officers possess;

(3)     Deployment: how officers interact with the communities whose rights they protect;

(4)     Accountability: what happens to an officer who abuses their power or makes a mistake in the course of their duties and;

(5)     Advancement: how an officer is rewarded for protecting rights and not advanced for failing to do so.

The broad outlines of the Quality Policing Initiative include:

  • Residency Requirements and rigorously enforced Affirmative Action hiring protocols to create racial and gender parity so that the police reflect the population they are policing.
  • Conflict Resolution and Threat Progression Training: So that police officers know how to deescalate a situation instead of having to use violent or deadly force.
  • Demilitarizing All Police Forces: Withdraw from the DOD 1033 program and end the use of the Forfeiture/Seizure Program to buy military grade gear.
  • Stopping the Use of Police as Collection Agents: Remove ticket quotas and fees and fines as primary mechanisms to fund municipal governments.
  • Implementation of field contact cards: Track every interaction, every officer has with every citizen, and record the reason for the interaction, the race of both parties, the location and results, so that we will have a pattern of practice for every police department in the country.  
  • An Early Warning System Database on Police Behavior:  A system that identifies officers who are overly aggressive and/or suspect in the use of their authority before they become a threat to the community.
  • Media Accountability System: Body and Dash cameras, with recorded data controlled by a Citizen’s Review Board and shared with the community and police simultaneously. 
  • A Citizen’s Review Board: A local entity with subpoena, investigatory and prosecutorial powers. The Board should also have a role in developing police policies and setting standards that impact all five areas of policing power.

We call on the President to use the power of the Department of Justice to partner with the National Bar Association and other civil rights and policing reform entities to investigate the patterns and practices of police forces and where needed monitor, disband, and reconstitute them as outlined in our Quality Policing Initiative.

We call on the President to use the power of the Department of Justice to compel every police municipality to comply with the National Bar Association—the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges—which has filed open records requests for any and all information about the following:

1. The number of individuals who have been killed.

2. The number of individuals who have been racially profiled.

3. The number of individuals who have been wrongfully arrested.

4. The number of individuals who have been injured while pursued or in police custody.

5. Any and all background information on officers involved in the incidents.

6. Comprehensive data from crime scenes, including “video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees.”

This moment demands that we continue to resist until justice is done! We call on the President to act NOW, tomorrow is too late!

October 24, 2019

Reflections from Philanthropy Forward's First Cohort

Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change is a CEO fellowship program created by Neighborhood Funders Group and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The program's first cohort started in October 2018 in furtherance of building and advancing a shared vision for the future of philanthropy.

Hear perspectives from members of the first cohort as they reflect in this video on their work together as strategic thought partners, addressing philanthropy's most challenging issues and aligning to build a financial engine for social change.

2018 - 2019 Philanthropy Forward Cohort

A grid with individual photos of each of the 20 members of Philanthropy Forward's 2018-2918 cohort..

Click here for participant bios

  • Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation
  • Sharon Alpert, Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, Solidago Foundation
  • Ned Calonge, The Colorado Trust
  • Irene Cooper-Basch, Victoria Foundation
  • Farhad A. Ebrahimi, The Chorus Foundation
  • Nicky Goren, Meyer Foundation
  • Justin Maxson, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Joan Minieri, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
  • Maria Mottola, New York Foundation
  • Mike Pratt, Scherman Foundation
  • Jocelyn Sargent, Hyams Foundation
  • Pamela Shifman, NoVo Foundation
  • Starsky D. Wilson, Deaconess Foundation
  • Steve Patrick, Aspen Institute Forum for Community solutions
  • Dennis Quirin, Raikes Foundation
September 10, 2019

For Love of Humankind: A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Justin Maxson, Executive Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, calls on fellow funding organizations based in the South to respond to the federal government's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies with three concrete actions. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Justin was part of the first Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, which strives to help people and places move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice, is a member of NFG.


Justin MaxsonWe are issuing a clarion call to Southern philanthropic organizations to respond to the manic drumbeat of anti-immigrant rhetoric and cruelty coming from the White House. This month began with a mass shooting targeting the Latinx community. Days later, massive raids tore apart hundreds of families and destabilized Mississippi communities but levied no consequences for the corporate leadership that lures vulnerable people to work in grueling, dangerous conditions. It is astounding that since those events, with the resulting fear and trauma still reverberating through immigrant communities across America, the administration has: 

  • repeated its intention to end birthright citizenship, a 14th Amendment guarantee that babies born on American soil are citizens. 
  • attempted to terminate the Flores Agreement, which sets standards for the care of children in custody. This would allow the administration to detain migrant families indefinitely in facilities where children are dying of influenza, yet flu shots are not administrated, where children are sexually assaulted, where soap, toothbrushes, human contact and play are not standard, and where breastfeeding babies are taken from their mothers. Child separation is known to cause permanent psychological trauma and brain damage.
  • announced changes to the so-called “public charge rule” to make it harder for legal immigrants to secure citizenship if they use public assistance. As our partners at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argue, this change would cause many to “forgo assistance altogether, resulting in more economic insecurity and hardship, with long-term negative consequences, particularly for children.” Further, the decision “rests on the erroneous assumption that immigrants currently of modest means are harmful to our nation and our economy, devaluing their work and contributions and discounting the upward mobility immigrant families demonstrate.”

There was also a recent effort to effectively end asylum altogether at the southern border. And despite the Supreme Court ruling blocking the citizenship question from the 2020 census, advocates believe the debate will depress response rates. As we wrote earlier this month, this administration’s animus against immigrants and increasingly aggressive ICE actions are compounding the devastating effects on communities across the country. 

Why Southern philanthropy? 

An analysis of recent grantmaking by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found our region has deportation rates five times higher than the rest of the country, yet Southern pro-immigrant organizations receive paltry philanthropic funding. Barely one percent of all money granted by the 1,000 largest foundations benefits immigrants and refugees, and even that money doesn’t go to state and local groups that are accountable to grassroots and immigrant communities. Organizations in Southern states receive less than half of the state and local funding of California, New York and Illinois. 

Where to begin? 

Speak up. As Desmund Tutu taught us, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Use your institutional voice to influence decisionmakers.

Examine your foundation’s policies. Find out if your endowment is invested in private detention centers. Consider how supporting organizing, power building and policy advocacy could advance your mission. NCRP has more recommendations in its report.

Give generously. Our partners at Hispanics in Philanthropy have curated a list of organizations helping the families affected by the raids across Mississippi. Our partners at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees have compiled a list of ways to help, from rapid response grants to long-term strategies. 

Many of the Babcock Foundation’s grantee partners are doing more and more immediate protection work, stretching themselves thin and often putting themselves at risk. They are keeping families intact in the short term while building power for the long term, so history will stop repeating: 

If you know of more resources, please share them. If you’d like to learn more about the organizations on the ground across the South – or think about ways we can do more together – contact us. We are always looking to learn and act in alignment with our fellow funders toward a shared vision of a strong, safe, welcoming and equitable region. 

Activist Jane Addams said, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us.” Regardless of a foundation’s mission, abject cruelty surely undermines it. It also undermines the most basic tenet of philanthropy, which literally means “love for humankind.” We see no love in this administration. It’s up to all of us to spread it.