Durham City Council and the Board of Education have already passed the Safety and Wellness Task Force Bylaws, which will bring new voices and perspectives to the pressing issue of community safety in Durham. In this crucial moment of reckoning with policing, racism, and the meaning of public safety, why hasn't the County Commission passed the bylaws?
Dear Durham Board of County Commissioners,
Cyber attacks, COVID-19, investigations, resignations, and the murder and assaults of innocent Black Men at the hands of law enforcement agents. All of these events demonstrate the need for a robust Safety and Wellness Task Force to protect Durham residents and enact anti-racist policies that improve the material conditions of all of Durham’s residents. It is time now that local governing bodies really commit to hearing the diversity of perspectives on issues that keep Durham safe--including robust wages, wrap-around programs at schools, affordable housing, and non-police interventions for social problems. Thank you, Durham Beyond Policing for leading on this issue. Thank you Durham Board of Education and City Council for answering the call for this task force. Doing so demonstrates you are already listening to the needs of our community.
We call upon everyone to encourage the Board of County Commissioners to agree to proposed bylaws for the Durham Safety and Wellness Task Force immediately, without law enforcement involvement. We need the task force to sustain and advance the long term goals for progressive change in Durham that we have been advocating for, including collaboration from the city and county for a Green New Deal for Durham, developing an equitable budget that serves all agencies, advocating for property tax forgiveness programs that don’t leave people in debt, eviction diversion, affordable housing, living wages for Durham Public Schools employees, input into school policing, and requesting allocation of resources for PPE for all Durham residents.
We need the BOE, City Council, and BOCC to start seating members of the task force, and we need to make sure that the members of this team include youth, at least one trauma-informed specialist, educators and justice-involved people.