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  • Edición impresa de Junio 20, 2017.

Beyond Sanctuary: A Vision for Cities Without Fear

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is giving sanctuary cities until June 30 to justify their status. But grassroots organizations across the country are pushing cities to provide even greater protections than sanctuary.
The “Freedom Cities” movement has said it’s going on the offensive rather than staying defensive in making cities safer, specifically for communities of color. Amanda Aguilar Shank, interim director of Enlace, a racial justice and economic justice organization, said New York workers started the movement from a desire to make the sanctuary cities a more inclusive idea.
“Sanctuary cities don’t protect us against police violence,” she said. “Sanctuary cities don’t protect us against over-incarceration. Sanctuary cities don’t even protect us against unjust deportations in the immigrant community.”
Aguilar Shank said criminal-justice reform is a large part of the movement. She explained the recent divestment by the city of Portland, Oregon, from all corporations, and the New York City pension fund’s divestment from private prisons, are moving cities closer to their vision.
Freedom Cities was started by Enlace, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
Aguilar Shank added the movement has been building for years, and isn’t simply a reaction to the Trump presidency. Its platform covers a wide variety of issues, from the demilitarization of police departments to the fight for a living wage, to environmental protections.
She acknowledged that each community will approach the movement differently to address the issues that affect it.
“Freedom Cities is about self-determination of oppressed communities, and so there’s no simple, two-step policy agenda that will get us to ‘freedom cities,’ she said. “It’s about creating a broad vision for what we need to live safe and free in our communities. And so, it’s a movement-building project.”
Basma Eid is a trainer at Enlace and also works with the New York Worker Center Federation. Her organizations, along with other Freedom Cities partners, are organizing around the annual “National Night Out” in August - which showcases the relationship between police and the community - with their own event, the “Night Out for Safety and Liberation.”
Eid doesn’t believe the relationship between police and communities of color can be solved with a barbecue. She is convinced that safety in marginalized communities has a different meaning.
“It’s about having quality education for our communities. It’s about having the resources, and control over resources, that often our communities don’t,” Eid explained. “It’s about restorative justice; it’s not just about pushing forward policing, like broken-windows policing, that ends up criminalizing poor people and people of color.”

 

 

 


 

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