Remarks to Council, Aug. 4, 2016

City Hall, 1 S. Huron St., Downtown Ypsilanti, MI

Reimagine community is a political campaign designed to inspire today’s youth, and empower Black youth to be more involved in their community. Are you willing to reimagine community, Mayor Amanda Edmonds? We must reimagine community in order to successfully erode white ignorance about Black Life and its many plights.

I’d like to share a few tweets (excerpts from the National Association of Counties’ website: NACo.org) with you:

  • Counties operate 91% of all local jails. 11.4 million people were admitted to county and other local jails in 2014.
  • Counties should improve the caliber of law enforcement through a revision of personnel practices by raising education and training.
  • Law enforcement misconduct damages the criminal justice system as a whole by undermining public confidence and trust in local officials.
  • It’s the responsibility of the counties to ensure public safety and at the same time protect the rights of pretrial and convicted persons.
  • Counties should identify gaps in services and develop a systemic plan for implementing a range of alternatives in incarceration.
  • Correctional institutions of any jurisdiction –state, county, or city – should provide humane living conditions and rehabilitation programs as well as providing services for their offenders’ well being, e.g., medical care, creation, and counseling.

Reimagine what we can accomplish together in pursuit of justice and equity.

Washtenaw County’s correctional system needs to be re‐evaluated, its infrastructure isn’t designed to rehabilitate, it is designed to demobilize and detain. Reducing access to enrichment limits nonviolent transgressors from developing life skills and confidence in their capabilities. Housing nonviolent youth in repressive environments induces fear, uncertainty, and insecurity. Expecting youth and detained individuals to return to society prepared for reintegration without the proper tools in place to aide the transition is inhumane.

Let’s devote energies towards establishing partnerships with existing youth serving agencies and other organizations committed to providing Washtenaw County residents opportunity for upward mobility.

Elect individuals willing to propose legislation that offers reparations to victims and their families of law enforcement violence. Support a candidate willing to redirect policing and prison funds to social good alternatives. Vote for leadership that advocates for legislative proposals that require police officers to carry personal liability insurance to cover costs of brutality or death claims.

Let’s disinvest from mass incarceration, hyper policing, and the criminalization of male‐ and female­‐bodied people of color, youth, and the LGBTQ+ community.

Male-­ and female­‐bodied people of color, youth, and the LGBTQ+ community should not have to continue negotiating their citizenship in their daily walk. Challenge our County Sheriff, Jerry Clayton to develop new revenue streams, instead of allowing current standards to reduce the general populace to the economic drivers of our local corrections system.

Until we eradicate discriminatory policies and practices, journalists and councilmen (e.g. Brian Robb) will continue to represent our work as mere issue advocacy. Voters are the decision­‐makers, officials are responsible for amplifying the values of said voters. Reclaim your civil rights, exercise your rights, and vote on November 8.

If you’re ready to reimagine community, join D’Real R. Graham on November 8, 2016.