Mayor Buttigieg has called for a special panel to meet tomorrow night to discuss police / community relations in South Bend (details here) . This comes, at least in part, in response to recent events.
One of the things often stressed in the advocacy trainings I've attended (and in the literature on building campaigns) is the importance of maintaining dialogues with decision makers, with those who could actually take meaningful action to realize your asks. This is important -- I've learned -- even if (perhaps especially if) there is seemingly no common ground between you and your opponents.
This is why I'll be meeting with SBPD's Chief of Police -- Chief Ruzkowski. I'm going to present him with the narrative of the DF case (just one chapter in the story of police / community relations here in South Bend). Here's that narrative, as I understand it:
The idea here is that what we do in the future can recast the significance of what's come before. It can literally reshape the story -- from a narrative of oppression and injustice, into a story of trust and good police / community relations.
Now, I realize many things about this case and my role in it:
- There is a history of police / community relations at play here that stretches back to before I lived in South Bend (back to the beginning of South Bend, really). I do not purport to know that whole story (I couldn't).
- I, personally, cannot know or understand the experience of DF, his family, and the members of our community that are closest to them -- and I do not purport to. I have been in contact with various members of our community much closer to these events than me, and they have advised that I merely advocate for the action items called for in the statement that was recently released by a group of concerned community members. That's what I plan to do.
- I also realize that there may be those who do not wish to engage with dialogue at the city-level at all (I.e. Who do not think we should dialogue with the Mayor, the Common Council, the SBPD, etc), until at least some of the action items have been addressed. I'm very open to hearing such an argument. If that's how you feel -- please let me know in the comments below.
In any event, I look forward to meeting with the Chief this morning, and will keep you updated on what he has to say about what the SBPD can do to resolve this ongoing injustice.
Update: very productive meeting!