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Public Safety



IL Attorney General commits to work with Metro IL to reduce gun violence & address separation of immigrant families

The new Illinois Attorney General followed through on his commitment to meet with IL Metro IAF leaders once elected.  A team of 10 leaders met with the Attorney General to seek his commitment to support Do Not Stand Idly By campaign to reduce gun violence as well as explore avenues to address the separation of families due to current immigration policies.  Next steps are in place to meet with top staff in order to move these issues forward as well as other pressing issues related to diverting mentally ill from criminal justice system, including affordable housing.



NJ Gov. Murphy signs on to Do Not Stand Idly By, releases crime gun data by manufacturer

Rev. Alonzo Perry speaks at a press conference with NJ Gov. Phil Murphy and AG Gurbir Grewal
 
 
At a press conference in Jersey City on March 12th, New Jersey Together & Jersey City Together welcomed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to announce that the state would be signing on to Metro IAF's Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. In addition, AG Grewal announced further steps becoming the first state to release crime gun data by manufacturer. So far in 2019, Smith & Wesson has been the #1 crime gun in New Jersey.
 



BUILD Calls on President Ron Daniels of Johns Hopkins University for Accountable Policing

Over the years, BUILD has heard the residents of Baltimore City demand accountable, relational policing as a solution to the violence of their neighborhoods. Over the past year, BUILD has challenged JHU administrators to be intentional in their community engagement as they consider the creation of their own campus police department. BUILD also challenged JHU to build a department that is transparent and publicly accountable, resulting in numerous provisions written into Maryland SB 793/HB 1094—passed by the General Assembly—that would authorize JHU to launch a police force.
 

 



DNSIB & Common Ground's Firearm Safety Expo Brings Law Enforcement and Gun Safety Companies Together

More than 100 law enforcement officers, healthcare leaders, investors and public officials gathered January 16 for a Firearm Safety Expo to see what the future of firearms looks like. Hosted by Common Ground, with support from Metro IAF, the expo provided a forum for gun safety innovators to present technology such as biometric locks, user authentication, and theft-tracking technology, all of which has the potential to reduce the number of people killed by guns every year in America.
 
 “As much as guns are an incredibly volatile issue in our society,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in his remarks, “we should all be able to gather around the notion that we can make this product safer.” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele added, “What we have, especially in government, is purchasing power… We can make demands and we can have an influence on what kind of guns are bought with that money.”
 
But the focus was on law enforcement and their reaction to these products. Said Wauwatosa Chief of Police Barry Weber, “It is important that we, as law enforcement officers, see ourselves as playing an overall critical component in shaping the future of firearms development.”
 
According to exit surveys collected at the event, their reaction was very positive. One hundred percent of the law enforcement said that they found the event informative; 87% said they would consider buying one of the products when they’re available; and 76% said they would recommend one of the devices to a civilian gun owner when the products become available.
 
The Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) campaign hopes to harness the positive energy from the expo to push the work forward, potentially spurring investment, encouraging public purchasing or creating a public health advocacy arm. This expo could prove to be a pivotal moment in the campaign.  Read the Press Release HERE.
 
Media Coverage:



Do Not Stand Idly By Victorious After American Outdoor Brands Corp Shareholder Resolution Passes, Requiring Gun Manufacturer to Report on Gun Violence


Smith & Wesson booth at the 2018 National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas | Photo Credit: Ethan Miller, Staff / Getty Images
 
A shareholder proposal passed at the annual meeting of AOBC (Smith & Wesson) after Do Not Stand Idly By and ally Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility worked to build support for the proposal. This is the second shareholder resolution to pass requiring a major gun company to report on the use of their products in gun violence and about the development of safer gun products in four months -- shareholders in Sturm Ruger passed an identical resolution in May.
 
In the weeks leading up to the AOBC meeting, an important breakthrough was made -- due to greater work by sister IAF organizations AIM, in Montgomery County, MD and The Metropolitan Organization, in Houston, TX, DNSIB gained the public support of the leadership of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.  Montgomery County Chief Manger and Houston Chief Acevedo not only wrote to the CEO of AOBC calling on them to engage with them to develop a safety plan, but also co-authored an Op-Ed piece with two IAF clergy leaders that ran in the Houston Chronicle
 
The company's management was vigorously opposed to the resolution, which they made clear both in writing before the meeting and verbally during the meeting, so this win is even more significant given the number of shares that Executives and Board Members typically control.
 
This shareholder pressure and police chiefs pressure, coupled with the purchasing power leverage that has been organized through the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign for several years (see RFI now with 130 jurisdictions on board) has the looks of a winning combination.
 
Press Coverage:



BUILD Wins Commitments from Mayor Pugh to Improve Policing and Jobs, Implement a Parish ID System, and Champion Full Funding of Baltimore Schools


More than 1,100 leaders turn out for June 6th Accountability Action with Baltimore Mayor Pugh.

On June 6, over 1,100 people from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, and belief systems gathered at Kingdom Life Church in West Baltimore to call on Mayor Catherine Pugh to make specific commitments toward reducing violence in Baltimore. New BUILD member institutions Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Patrick’s Catholic Churches from South Baltimore turned out en masse. Together, Sacred Heart and St. Patrick’s brought over 500 people, most of them immigrants, who stood together and were recognized and supported by all in attendance. 
The purpose of the action was to reset BUILD’s public relationship with Mayor Pugh and publicly state our demands to reduce the violence in Baltimore. Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises, Baltimore City Council President Jack Young, and other city and state leaders were present at the assembly.
 
Over the past several months, BUILD issue action teams have researched and developed their top priorities for reducing violence in the city, focusing on issues in the areas of policing & public safety, mental health & addiction, youth opportunities & education, and jobs. The teams’ research was supported by data from BUILD’s 2017 listening campaign of 1,034 residents across Baltimore City. BUILD teams have developed clearly defined goals and demands of Baltimore city’s leaders, including Mayor Pugh.
 
In the weeks preceding the accountability assembly, BUILD leaders met with Mayor Pugh to define the relationship, clarify expectations, and agree on a format for the assembly. She changed her schedule to attend the action.
 
On June 6, Mayor Pugh sat in the front row as community leaders —including student leaders from three City schools—shared personal stories that highlighted the urgency of the crisis in the city and demanded that she fulfill her commitments to:
  • End the culture of corruption in the Baltimore Police Department and increase foot posts;
  • Implement a parish ID system to protect the immigrant community of Baltimore;
  • Champion Kirwan Commission recommendations to fully fund Baltimore City schools, ensure the presence of mental health professionals in schools (social workers and counselors), and maintain current levels of out-of-school and community school funding in the budget for the duration of her administration;
  • Work with BUILD and corporate leaders to increase employment for those ready and able to work
Youth leaders from City Springs Elementary/Middle School and Hampstead Hill Academy eloquently and forcefully spoke of kids as young as 10 and 11 writing wills in fear of losing their lives to violence. One young man shared that every day he looks out his school windows and sees the place where Ray Glasgow III, a former student at City Springs, was killed. “I don’t want to be another Ray,” he said.
 
Antoinette Mugar, Vice President of Harlem Park West Community Association, spoke of being burglarized twice in the last month and being ready to leave the community in which she has resided her whole life. Donald Medley, Turnaround Tuesday leader and Community Health Worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital, countered the myth that Baltimore City doesn’t want to work and celebrated the 500+ people placed in living-wage jobs through Turnaround Tuesday.
 
Ever Castillo—speaking in both Spanish and English—shared the heartbreaking story of his experience being targeted by criminals who laughed in his face when he called the police because he isn’t a “real American” and would be ignored. When police finally arrived, they spoke to the perpetrators first. Later, Castillo’s family was attacked with box cutters and knives. He asked Mayor Pugh if she would commit to work with the immigrant community to help them feel safe to call the police and request help. 
 
Commitments
BUILD successfully gained recognition from the mayor, recognized her in return, and received the public commitments we sought. By organizing the power to get to the table, BUILD won the agreement that had been developed by our issue action teams. 
 
At the assembly, Mayor Pugh publicly committed to the following:
  • Fully implementing BUILD’s policing recommendations, including an increase in foot patrols within 30 days 
  • Implementing the Baltimore City parish ID system
  • Championing the full funding of Kirwan Commission recommendations
  • Working with the Baltimore City Schools CEO to rally principals, teachers, parents, students, etc. in support of Kirwan funding
  • Maintaining current levels of funding for existing community school and out-of-school programs for remainder of Mayor Pugh’s tenure
  • Making the 30% local hiring and 20% affordable housing mandate (Port Covington precedent) a flagship policy of the city so that all developers coming to Baltimore are required meet these minimum standards
 
Media:
 
 
Video of the evening:
 



DNSIB Wins Passage of Sturm Ruger Shareholder Resolution Requiring Safety and Distribution Reporting


Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) leaders speaking out on the need for gun safety 
 
Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) and our ally, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, won a first-of-its-kind victory in May: 69% of shareholders at Sturm Ruger’s annual meeting voted against management’s advice and in favor of ICCR’s resolution requiring the gun manufacturer to issue a report on the impact of its products on violence in America. DNSIB leaders were present at the meeting, and are continuing to build relationships with major investors across the gun industry to encourage a long-term focus on safer gun technologies and distribution practices.
 
Press Coverage:
 
 



Common Ground Leaders Stop Notorious VLive Strip Club


Dozens of community members and members of Southeastern Wisconsin’s Common Ground attended the License Committee meeting at City Hall. | Photo Credit:  Teran Powell WUWM

Common Ground brought over 35 people to a Milwaukee License Committee hearing on March 6th and stopped the notorious VLive franchise from coming into the neighborhood at 35th Street and Capitol Drive. Rotiesha Nelson, Common Ground member, mother and area resident, lead the opposition: “A strip club in the community is not what we need. Us as a community already face enough challenges.”
 
We had heard from several sources that Tatou, a club located at 3945 N 35th Street, planned to renew its licenses and then sell to VLive strip club and transfer the licenses.  Tatou has been doing renovations and even put up a VLive sign on their building. Furthermore, auditions were held and a VLive franchise opening in Milwaukee was being promoted on social media.
 
We feared VLive would bring an increase in crime or sex trafficking as it did in Chicago and Houston. In Chicago, VLive was the source of the highest number of police reports in the area – mainly assaults and theft. That location is now closed. In Houston the County Attorney sued to close down VLive because of crime, including drugs, gambling, prostitution, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, robbery and murder. VLive Houston was shutdown.
 
Milwaukee has consistently ranked among the top five cities in the nation for sex trafficking.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that many young trafficking victims come from group homes. There are two girls’ group homes on 37th St between Capitol and Keefe – just a few blocks from Tatou.
 
Common Ground leaders walked the neighborhood around 35th and Capitol talking to parents, residents, businesses, neighborhood groups, churches, daycares, and schools. Despite intimidation, in six days Common Ground collected 234 signatures opposing VLive coming into Tatou’s club. Many of those we met through our walks came to City Hall for the hearing to show their opposition.
After learning that Tatou will not partner with or sell to VLive, Jennifer O’Hear, Director of Common Ground United Parents, said, “We want to thank Alderman Rainey for helping us to stop VLive. We thank the Licensing Committee for acknowledging Common Ground’s role.” She concluded, “We want our concerns to go on the record. We will be watching.”
 
Because of the outpouring of opposition from the community, not only was Tatou forced to amend this and all future license applications to say they will not partner with or sell to VLive, but also Tatou’s application to renew their alcohol and public entertainment licenses was denied.
 
Common Ground Lead Organizer, Keisha Krumm, reflected, “In that hearing room we experienced the power of organized people. By coming together in an organized collective, we stopped this deplorable strip club from coming into our neighborhood. We persisted in the face of intimidation and won for our children and the common good.”
 
“This just shows what we can do when we come together,” said Ms. Nelson after the hearing.
 
MEDIA COVERAGE:



CONECT Wins Commitments on Police Body Cameras & Teacher Training on Immigration, Hate Speech and Bias-Based Bullying


Rev. Anthony Bennett questions Bridgeport Police Chief A.J. Perez on body cameras for Bridgeport police.
 
On Nov 6th, 188 people came out to a first local action for CONECT in Norwalk, CT where the organization got commitments from the Mayoral Candidates, the Police Chief, and the Assistant Superintendent of Schools on Do Not Stand Idly By, immigration, and teacher training on hate speech and bias based bullying.
 
In a school district that is 40% Latino, 30% White and 20% African American, the Director of Operations for Norwalk Public Schools vowed the district would offer a full day of anti-bias cultural awareness training for teachers and staff at the beginning of each school year, starting in August 2018. The school district also committed to creating a one-page fact sheet in multiple languages regarding protocol related to immigration enforcement and agreed to work with other school districts on issues of immigration and discrimination.
 
On Nov 30th, CONECT had 203 leaders out to a Delegates Assembly themed "We'll Rise" off of the Maya Angelou poem "And Still I Rise" where the Bridgeport Police Chief was pressed for commitments around getting body cameras for the force and around training all officers on de-escalation tactics and on racial / cultural sensitivity and anti-bias training. Chief Perez committed to training 100 veteran officers in de-escalation tactics by May of 2018 and promised to apply for state funding for body cameras for every police officer in the force within one week following the assembly with CONECT.



1,400+ EBC-Metro IAF Leaders Win Commitment on Gun Violence, Recognition from NY Police and Housing Commissioners


More than 1,400 leaders packed St. Paul Community Baptist Church in action with Police and Housing Commissioners 

East Brooklyn Congregations had an incredible assembly and action at the end of July with NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, Housing Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer and 1,400+ East Brooklyn Congregations-Metro IAF leaders.  The sanctuary at St. Paul Community Baptist Church was standing room only, and there were many more people in the entry way, chapel and in rooms downstairs.

The themes of the night were criminal justice and immigration, affordable housing, and launching EBC’s largest ever action on Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday, October 9th.

EBC had an incredible breakthrough with Commissioner O'Neill who committed publicly to meet with Glock firearms. Leaders Dahlia Romero and Rabbi Joel Mosbacher asked O'Neill to make Glock, who arms the NYPD, choose between the NYPD and places like Arrowhead Pawn Shop in Georgia. Arrowhead is the infamous gun dealer that has supplied weapons to murderers and maniacs in all five boroughs, including the individual who killed two NYPD officers two years ago.  After 4 years of pushing the NYPD, EBC finally got a yes.

Reverend David K. Brawley and Blanche Romey concluded the action with a challenge to EBC leaders to go hold the mayor accountable around EBC-Metro IAF's plan to totally rehabilitate New York City public housing and build 15,000 new units of affordable senior housing. As Reverend Brawley said, "we've waited three years for this mayor to meet. We're tired of waiting. If he won't meet with us then we're going to him."

Pledges were made for at least 4,650 leaders to attend the East Brooklyn Congregations-Metro IAF Assembly at City Hall at 12:00 pm, Monday, October 9th (Columbus Day). That number is likely to grow over the next few weeks. 

EBC leader Rev. David K. Brawley shakes hands with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill


EBC leaders Rev. David K. Brawley and Linda Boyce on stage with Housing Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer



DuPage United Wins First County-Wide CIT Curriculum Outside Chicago

DuPage United in Illinois successfully organized to establish the state’s first county-wide Crisis Intervention Team Police Training curriculum outside of Chicago. The incarceration of individuals affected by mental health issues in Illinois is a chronic issue, and families with loved ones impacted by the state’s lack of mental health resources continue to fight for solutions. As a result of the organizing work led by those families, police in DuPage County will now have access to two CIT trainings a month compared to an average 4 trainings per year offered by the state.

This win will pave the way for other counties across Illinois to follow suit, dramatically ramping up the number of trained CIT officers. DuPage United will hold the county accountable to their goal of training at least 90 officers per month. Meeting this goal could result in 1,080 newly trained CIT officers in one year's time -- an estimated 800% increase in CIT officers in the Metro Chicago Region and a 75% reduction in CIT training costs to each participating department.



In Boston, GBIO Wins Commitments from Legislators on Criminal Justice

In the past month, GBIO leaders held In-District Meetings with two Massachusetts State Senators and three Representatives, met five additional Representatives in their offices, and made hundreds of phone calls — continuing to build support for four key reforms to the criminal justice system: repealing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, pretrial and bail reform, reducing/eliminating fees and fines, and shortening length of time spent in solitary confinement.

On June 5th, at the MA State House, GBIO leaders presented testimony and had a strong showing at the Joint Judiciary Committee Hearing on bills for three of these four reforms.

At the May 18th In-District meeting, at First Parish UU, 40 leaders secured commitment on all four legislative priorities from Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Marjorie Decker, and on two (pretrial and bail reform, reducing/eliminating fees/fines) from Rep. Boncore.

On June 8th, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, nearly 60 leaders secured commitment for all four legislative priorities from Rep. Holmes, and for at least three of the four, from Rep. Cullinane’s staff. Sen. Forry canceled at the last minute. Fired up by Sen. Forry's cancelation, attendees committed to making an in-office visit, and more than 40 phone calls to her office, on June 9th. They posted to social media that they carried on their meeting without Sen. Forry's attendance.

In addition, leaders met with Reps. Malia, Rushing, Sanchez, and Stanley. Each of these representatives committed to at least two of GBIO’s four legislative priorities.

In the coming months, GBIO’s criminal justice team plans to push legislative action on these issues to other parts of Massachusetts, through denominational relations in the AME, Presbyterian, UU, UCC, Reconstructionist Jewish and Reform Jewish congregations across the state, as well as through friend/family networks of GBIO members.



EBC Wins Commitments from 75th Precinct Commanding Officer

On April 27th, Academy for Young Writers hosted an action with over 100 leaders and Deputy Inspector John Chell, Commanding Officer of the 75th precinct.

EBC’s leadership team did an incredible job of pushing DI Chell for commitments. As a result, he agreed to:

  • Assign two crossing guards outside of Young Writers
  • Remove two "cars for sale" outside of Nehemiah homes
  • Investigate and install a camera outside of a drug site near St. Peter Lutheran
  • Arrange one-to-one meetings with 15 rookie officers whenever we are ready
  • Meet with Young Writers student council to address complaints about truancy officers, and sexual harassment at a nearby bodega

And on April 28th DI Chell delivered! When students and staff arrived at Academy for Young Writers that morning there were already two crossing guards there.



CONECT Victorious in Fight to Revoke Liquor License of Local Pizza Bar

One year following the tragic murder of a CONECT leader’s son, CONECT wins rare ruling that revokes the liquor license of Slyce Pizza Bar in Hamden, CT. In April 2016, patrons leaving the bar mistook the son of long-time CONECT Strategy Team leader, Odell Cooper, for someone they had been in a fight with earlier at the bar. The patrons followed Odell’s son for half a mile until he came to a red light, where they shot and killed him. Stirred by anger and grief, CONECT took action against the bar owner by requesting the Liquor Commission revoke the bar’s liquor license. A string of violence has emanated from Slyce Pizza Bar, with 5 other shootings, assaults, sexual assaults and more.

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In the News


PERSON SPOTLIGHT: Tita Concepcion

Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Metro IAF NYC

My name is Tita Concepcion, I am a member of Our Lady of Presentation – Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, and a long-time resident of the Breukelen Houses in Canarsie. 
 
This summer I took action at City Hall and confronted NYCHA managers and this mayor for allowing my daughter to be assaulted.  
 
For years we’ve had problems in our buildings: a lack of heat & hot water, mold, dirty elevators and local managers who treat us with total disrespect. But the turning moment for me started with men lurking in our lobby because the front door lock was broken. We’d call and call but it would stay broken.
Then one day my daughter was sexually assaulted. I was outraged, and decided that enough was enough. I invited my neighbors over to my house to see if they were tired of being treated like trash by this administration. We knocked on doors and we got organized.
 
One of my neighbors in the building next door had so many rats that she was afraid to go out at night. Rats! We had to host meetings during the day because the rats would take over the courtyard at night. 
 
At City Hall, I testified, rallied and confronted NYCHA.  I challenged this mayor’s indifference to the health and safety of half a million black and Latino New Yorkers like me. We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens.
 
We take action to get a reaction, and the very next day my door was fixed. I got the mayor to do his job and make it safe for my daughter and me again. But I was just getting started.
 
Later I organized more than 70 parishioners and neighbors to host a press conference with Councilwoman Inez Barron. We got more attention and more of a reaction. Soon they were getting rid of the rats and cleaning out people’s mold.
 
As Fr. Skelly mentioned, we helped win $2.2 billion for repairs.  There are hundreds of thousands of us that still need repairs. We’re going to need more money, real leadership and strong accountability.  
 
After 5 years, I don’t trust this mayor to do it on his own. That’s why all of you and I will keep taking action. 
 

BUILD listens to 1,100 Residents, Ratifies Plan to Fight Baltimore Violence

Sunday, February 25, 2018
BUILD

BUILD trains 120 members and leaders on January 13, 2018 to rebuild city of Baltimore
 
Baltimore’s unprecedented violence last year made national news, and BUILD responded by listening to approximately 1,100 city residents about their experiences with violent crime and what they most 

want the Mayor and City officials to act on immediately. BUILD organizers and institutions documented each conversation and identified the top issues for action as: Youth Trauma & Opportunity; AddictionRecovery; Policing; and Jobs & Economic Opportunity. The action plan was ratified by 150 attendees at a Citywide Action Team meeting in late 2017.
 
BUILD has already trained 120 members and leaders to be the Nehemiahs that will rebuild a broken city and formed issue action teams to research and turn the large-scale problems the community faces into actionable issues.
 

Do Not Stand Idly By Campaign Pushes Forward, Inspires U.S. Mayors to Act

Sunday, February 25, 2018
Do Not Stand Idly By


Metro IAF Leaders Escort New Haven Mayor Toni Harp back to the US Conference of Mayors meeting. Photo Credit: David Choy

On January 25th, 100 Metro IAF leaders from 10 states fanned out across the Washington, DC metropolitan area for a full day of actions and meetings with more than a dozen local and national leaders concerned with gun violence. The meetings resulted in preliminary commitments secured from New Haven Mayor Harp to present Metro IAF's DNSIB strategy to the African American Mayors Association conference in April of 2018 and to work with Boston Mayor Walsh to organize a special Gun Safety Technology and Manufacturer Accountability session at a US Conference of Mayors meeting hosted by Mayor Walsh. Read more on the day of action here.


CONECT Leaders Continue Fight to Reduce Gun Violence

Friday, September 22, 2017
Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut


 

CONECT leaders have continued to play an important role in the national Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, which seeks to persuade gun manufacturers to take action to prevent gun theft and illegal sales and to innovate to create safe / smart gun technology. New Haven Mayor Harp has invited CONECT to present the campaign to the African American Mayors’ Association in October.

Back in May, three CONECT leaders attended the annual shareholders meeting of Sturm, Ruger, Inc., one of the nation’s largest gun manufacturers headquartered in Southport, CT.  They met the CEO, pressing him and other executives to respond to the growing demand for action. 120 mayors, police chiefs, and other officials around the country have agreed to use their buying power (40% of all gun sales are to the public sector) to demand that gun companies respond. In July, CONECT added Westport First Selectman Marpe to the list of 10 CT officials already supporting the campaign. 


In shadow of Charlottesville, GBIO vigil draws thousands to affirm Unity, Love, and Strength

Friday, September 22, 2017
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization


Leaders stand in unity, committing to peace and justice

1700 people attended an interfaith service at Temple Israel on August 18th, in response to the tragic events of Charlottesville, VA, and the night before a controversial rally on Boston Common by alleged White supremacists. At the event, organized by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to denounce racism and anti-semitism and to call for a shared commitment to peace and justice.

In the program for the event, Boston area religious leaders issued a joint statement on “the horrific events in Charlottesville,” expressing outrage at the “hate-mongers” and imploring our political and religious leaders to “call out this behavior instantly, unequivocally—to decry it with instinctive, full-throated condemnation.”

The service included prayers, songs, and calls to unity, love and strength by Sarah Higginbotham (First Church Cambridge), Elaine Zecher and Cantor Roy Einhorn (Temple Israel), Hajja Ashaki Taha-Cisse and Qari Muhammed Nabil Mustafa (ISBCC), Rev. Mariama White-Hammond (Bethel AME), Shaykh Yasir Fahmy (ISBCC), Rev. Nancy Taylor (Old South Church), Rabbi Or Rose (Center for Global Judaism), Liz Walker (Roxbury Presbytarian Church), Rev. Oscar Pratt (St. Katharine Drexel), and Rabbi Matthew Soffer (Temple Israel Boston).

Attendees applaud during Interfaith Gathering of Unity, Love, and Strength
// Photo Credit: Craig F. Walker, Boston Globe Staff


BUILD Demands Baltimore City Mayor Release Strategy to Fight Violence

Friday, September 1, 2017
BUILD


BUILD turns out 250 members to act on violence in Baltimore.

After the BUILD City Wide Action Team meeting of 102 people at St Matthew Church agreed that violence should be the top priority issue, BUILD turned out 250 members on August 2nd to demand the Baltimore City Mayor release her comprehensive strategy to fight violence.  BUILD then called on the Mayor to convene top law enforcement, corporate, and philanthropic leaders along with BUILD & the City Council to review the plan and make it actionable.  As part of BUILD’s work, the organization committed to hitting the streets to listen to over 1,000 residents about what they think must be done to reduce the violence. Mayor Pugh released her plan on August 9th.


Baltimore Sun reporter, Ian Duncan, tweets about BUILD’s ability to deliver on turnout.


CONECT Demands Police Reforms Following Fatal Shooting of 15-Year Old

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut

A dozen CONECT Clergy and Lay leaders gathered at the site of 15 year-old Jayson Negron's fatal shooting by a Bridgeport Police Officer with several of Jayson’s family members (his sister, aunt and cousin) to call for 1) a timely and transparent investigation, 2) the use of body and dash cameras by the Bridgeport Police Department, and 3) the prioritization of de-escalation and racial/cultural sensitivity training for all Bridgeport police officers.

CONECT called on Mayor Ganim, Police Chief Armando Perez, and State's Attorney Platt to meet with CONECT on these issues. Depending on the progress of the investigation and what it shows, CONECT may call for other changes in the future as well.

Click here for video.


Common Ground Holds First Bi-Lingual Delegates' Assembly

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Common Ground

Common Ground held a landmark action on April 26, conducting its first bilingual Delegates’ Assembly at the largest Latino parish in Milwaukee, St. Adalbert’s, located on the south side. 44 organizations and 750 leaders of all ages and backgrounds were represented, each dedicated to making Milwaukee a better place for everyone to live.

Common Ground’s presence has grown on the south side over the past year, thanks to dedicated leaders from our South Side caucus. These leaders made major contributions to Common Ground by increasing the number of south side member organizations and by organizing the 40/40 Group. The 40/40 Group is dedicated to training young community leaders on how to make change in their community using Common Ground’s social justice methods. Common Ground needs young community leaders like these for the vitality, savvy and dedication they bring now, and to ensure that Common Ground continues to gain power in the future.


Do You Want to Know if Your College Allows Guns on Campus?

Saturday, March 4, 2017
DNSIB Petition

While states across the country pass new “campus carry” laws, students and their families deserve access to information on colleges’ policies related to firearms. Therefore:

 

THE U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION should compile data on campus gun policies; and

COLLEGE PRESIDENTS & COLLEGE RATINGS SERVICES should make this information easily available to current and prospective students.

 

To read the full petition and sign,

go here:  http://bit.ly/2llmO0k


Sen. Schumer Joins Do Not Stand Idly By

Monday, October 26, 2015
Metro IAF

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                CONTACT: Angelo Roefaro

October 23, 2015                                            202-380-5990

SCHUMER STANDS WITH MORE THAN 100 NYC METRO-IAF LEADERS TO PUSH LARGE GUN-PURCHASING FEDERAL AGENCIES, LIKE DOD AND DOJ, TO PRESSURE GUN MAKERS TO MAKE SAFER GUNS AND TO CEASE DISTRIBUTING VIA DEALERS WHO FAIL TO COMPLETE BACKGROUND CHECKS; U.S. GOVERNMENT--LARGEST GUN BUYER--MUST USE GUN CONTRACTS TO PROD GUN MAKERS TO STEM TIDE OF GUN VIOLENCE BY IMPROVING GUN SAFETY AND DISTRIBUTION PRACTICES

Schumer & Metro IAF—Nation’s Largest & Longest-Standing Network Of Local Faith & Community-Based Organizations—Say Federal Government and Other Top Gun Purchasers Can Do More To Stem Gun Violence; Fed Government’s Purchasing Power Must be Leveraged to Change Gun Makers’ Deadly Ways

U.S. Government Makes Up 25% of Gun Market; With DOD/Army Currently Considering Massive $580M Purchase of Small Arms, Now Is The Time To Rewrite Requirements For Federal Contracts

Schumer: By Raising The Standards On Which Gun Manufactures Can Do Business With The Federal Government, We Can Make America Safer 

 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, alongside leaders of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF), LICAN and their “Do Not Sit Idly By” gun safety campaign, pushed a plan using the federal government’s leverage as a top purchaser of guns and ammunition to get gun makers to make improvements to their gun distribution and production practices, which contribute greatly to high rates of gun violence in communities across America.

“The massive purchasing power of federal agencies, like the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, can and should be used to hold gun makers accountable for a lack of gun safety and irresponsible gun distribution – and to change those practice for the better,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer explained that the U.S. government, including the military and law enforcement agencies, makes up 25 percent of the gun market and, as the nation’s number one buyer of guns from major manufacturers, has leverage to change gun makers’ production and distribution practices in ways that can improve safety in American communities. In fact, Schumer and the Metro IAF pointed out, the Department of Defense is soliciting proposals from gun manufacturers for a $580 million contract to replace the current aging handgun models used by service members. Schumer explained that the federal government should use its significant leverage to garner vital information from gun makers and to prod them to improve gun safety features and their distribution practices.                                                                          

“While I respect individual rights on this matter, gun violence in America is far too high and we must take sensible steps to reduce gun violence in all our communities. As the number one buyer of guns, the U.S. government should use its significant leverage to hold gun makers accountable for gun safety and gun distribution,” said Senator Schumer. “Our plan is a smart way to use the federal government’s market power to force gun makers to change and to improve the safety in neighborhoods. Our plan will push the gun makers to make smarter guns – innovations that make it harder for these weapons to be used in crimes – and we will push the gun makers not to distribute through dealers who are supplying guns to people who have not passed a background check. I pledge to work with my friends at Metro IAF and everyone across New York to do all I can to help address the scourge of gun violence in sensible ways.”

Specifically, Schumer is calling on the U.S. Army to amend its currently-open $580 million contract for small arms to include provisions that require bidders to supply information about what they are doing to produce so-called ‘smart guns,’ which are harder for criminals to access and use, and what they are doing to bring those guns to market. Further, Schumer is urging the Army to select a gun contractor that agrees to only sell on the civilian market to gun stores that require completed background checks. Senator Schumer will call on federal agencies to follow the example of the bi-partisan group of police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, county executives, and governors, organized by Metro IAF, by taking two sets of concrete actions:  1) Require bidders on federal gun contracts to provide substantive answers to government queries about their distribution practices and safety technologies, and begin measuring their performance in these areas.  2) Expand research and development on “smart guns” and other safety technologies and explore the law enforcement and military applications of these technologies.

Further, to jump start better research and development of ‘smart gun’ technology and innovation, Schumer is pushing to triple funding to $6 million for Department of Justice to fund Gun Safety Technology grants. Currently, the National Institute of Justice conducts research on smart guns technology, however, Schumer said that even more needs to be done. This year, the National Institute of Justice received $2 million in DOJ grant funding and Schumer is asking that its federal DOJ funding be tripled. Schumer said that increased funding will help further develop technology that exclusively allows only an authorized user to fire a gun and deactivates when used by unauthorized users. Overall, Schumer explained that his plan will help get crime guns off our streets and help reduce gun violence.

“When it comes to sensible gun policy, the federal government has real market power, but it also has the power of example and it can show many other entities how to positively impact the behavior of the gun makers in ways that reduces violence -- without reducing anyone’s rights,” continued Schumer.

 Schumer was joined by Rabbi Larry Sebert, Reverend Getty Cruz, Rabbi Stef Kolin, Reverend David K. Brawley, Reverend Gawain de Leeuw, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl and leaders from Manhattan Today, South Bronx Churches, East Brooklyn Congregations, Westchester United, LI CAN and EQUAL.

“As the murder of Officer Randolph Holder in East Harlem shows, even New York City is awash in illegal guns,” said Reverend Getulio Cruz, pastor of Monte Sion Christian Church and a leader in Metro IAF.  “It’s time for the leading gun manufacturers to sever ties with the nation’s most irresponsible gun dealers.  And it’s time for the federal agencies that buy guns from those manufacturers to use their clout in the marketplace to demand that they do.” 

“Senator Chuck Schumer has been a leader on guns throughout his career,” said Rabbi Larry Sebert, Senior Rabbi at Town and Village Synagogue.  “As well as anyone in America, he knows the limits of what Congress can and will do.  He knows, like all of us do, that gun sanity can’t wait for Congress.  And he knows that the largest gun buyer in America certainly has a powerful voice in the firearms marketplace.”

A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:

Dear Secretary McHugh,

I understand that the U.S. Army recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Modular Handgun System procurement competition requiring that proposals from interested contractors be submitted by January 28, 2016. I am writing today to urge the Army to amend the current RFP to include a deliverable requiring prospective contractors to include gun safety measures and distribution practices in their proposals. 

The Army regularly purchases hundreds of thousands of guns to arm our forces. In fact, the federal government is the largest purchaser of guns in the country – purchasing more than twenty five percent of the guns and ammunition sold in the United States. The manufacturers who sell guns to the military are the same ones who sell guns to civilian men and women across the country through local dealers and sporting goods stores. Unfortunately, because of a loophole in the background check system, not all guns are sold with a completed background check. During the last five years, more than 15,000 guns were sold to prohibited purchasers with incomplete background checks. This dangerous loophole means that people such as the Charleston killer are able to legally purchase a gun despite past prohibitive behavior. 

We know that even a fully functioning background check system cannot prevent all gun violence. We regularly see horrific accidents that could be prevented by smart gun technology, such as an 11 year old boy killing an 8 year old girl in Jefferson County, Tennessee earlier this month, hence the need for better innovations that make weapons workable only for the actual owner.  

As a standard part of the Army’s procurement process, I understand you require firearm manufactures to submit proposals with specific deliverables.  With this in mind, I urge the U.S. Army to include a deliverable in the current and future RFPs that would require gun manufacturers to agree to solely sell their guns in stores that require completed background checks prior to sale.  In addition, I also respectfully request that the amended RFP require all participating bidders to lay out a plan for the development and sale of smart or childproof guns and accessories.  The U.S. Army should do all it can to ensure that companies participating in small arms acquisition procurements are held accountable for their involvement in the civilian market, and are properly incentivized to promote smart gun technology and protections. Ideally, the RFP would require bidders on federal gun contracts to provide substantive answers to government queries about their distribution practices and safety technologies, and begin measuring their performance in these areas, and it would expand research and development on “smart guns” and other safety technologies and explore the law enforcement and military applications of these technologies.

There is no question that gun violence in America must be immediately addressed. Requiring manufacturers who participate in the procurement process to develop stronger gun safety measures will not improve public safety in the short term by closing background check loopholes, but lead to development of better protective technology for children and families.  

Thank you for your attention to this issue and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


Greater Cleveland Congregations Leads Momentum for Police Reform

Friday, March 6, 2015
Cleveland Plain Dealer

                                     

Momentum Appears to be Building toward Meaningful Police Reform in Cleveland

For all the anger and mistrust swirling around the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the release of a critical U.S. Department of Justice report on the use of excessive force by Cleveland police, voices are being raised in clear expectation that meaningful change can be achieved.

These voices come from within the community and from City Hall, where Mayor Frank Jackson has become increasingly forthright about his determination to negotiate a meaningful and -- from his perspective -- fair consent decree with the Justice Department.

The public's input is equally important, and it is heartening to see the Greater Cleveland Congregations, a collection of faith communities, join the dialogue over police reform. They've made a number of recommendations they would like included in a consent decree.

"We see a chance to seize an opportunity, an opportunity to shape changes within the Cleveland police department," Louise McKinney of the Greater Cleveland Congregations said last month during a gathering at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, where her organization handed over its proposals to Jackson and U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

Many of the GCC's suggestions make sense, including a greater push toward bias-freepolicing, more diversity on the police force, improved hiring practices and a commitment from both the Justice Department and the city to help pay for the much-needed reforms.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/momentum_appears_to_be_buildin.html


Actions to Deliver RFIs to Gun Manufacturers Across Country

Monday, November 10, 2014
Associated Press
Metro leaders visit seven gun manufacturers and investors in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Georgia to deliver RFIs to some of America’s largest gunmakers, including Colt Manufacturing and Sturm Ruger in Connecticut and Glock’s U.S. headquarters in Georgia. Press roundup below:
 
New York / New Jersey
CBS New York:
 
Bergen Record:
 
News12 Westchester:
 
Talk of the Sound
 
Connecticut
New Haven Register:
 
Fox CT:
 
NBC Connecticut:
 
Eyewitness News 3 (WFSB):
 
NewsTimes / Connecticut Post:
 
Hartford Courant:
 
National
AP Teaser (example below, published on 20-30 sites across country)

German Deutsche Welle Interviews Rabbi Joel Mosbacher on Metro-IAF's Gun Violence Reduction Campaign

Monday, December 16, 2013
Deutsche Welle

One year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, US gun violence continues unabated. European manufacturers compound the problem.

The father of Joel Mosbacher, a rabbi from New Jersey, was shot dead in a petty robbery in 1999. The anger stayed with his son, but he decided to use it wisely and got involved in the citizens' organizing network Metro IAF.

This year, he and other clergy from New Jersey started the "Do Not Stand Idly By" initiative to reduce gun violence. A key demand is to get gunmakers to accept responsibility, and act accordingly.

The top manufacturers fueling US gun culture are all European. Mosbacher and other local clergy have therefore decided to raise awareness and confront the manufacturers in Europe. DW talked to Rabbi Mosbacher about his visit.


Metro IAF Delegation Lobbies Gun Manufacturers Abroad

Friday, December 13, 2013
New York Daily News

Clergy members from Metro IAF affiliates left Sunday, December 9th to lobby European gun manufacturers as part of the “Do Not Stand Idly By” gun violence reduction campaign. The clergy are seeking meetings with Austria’s Glock, Germany’s SIG Sauer and Italy’s Berretta, which dominate gun sales to police departments and government agencies in the U.S.

Their goals are to:

  1. Meet with executives at the major gun manufacturers Glock, SIG Sauer, and Baretta, as well as officials, policymakers, and local leaders.
  2. Learn more about European efforts to develop the relatively "safe gun" and firearms tracing technologies.
  3. Discuss the importance of conditions placed on firearms export licenses from Europe to the U.S.

Metro IAF has gotten a lot of press over this trip, including internationally. Read all about it here:

New York Daily News:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/12/08/religious-leaders-head-to-europe-to-lobby-gun-execs-for-changes/

Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joshua-stanton/preventing-gun-violence-a_b_4409066.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

Redattore Sociale: (Italian- Click HERE for translation)

http://www.redattoresociale.it/Notiziario/Articolo/451055/Un-anno-fa-la-strage-di-Newtown-Negli-Usa-le-armi-uccidono-30-mila-persone

Suddeutsche: (German- Click HERE for translation)

http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/waffen-in-amerika-blutspur-nach-europa-1.1841620

 


Preventing Gun Violence a Year After Newtown

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Huffington Post

The days after the Newtown massacre, I, like so many religious and civic leaders, had the difficult task of meeting with scared parents and frightened students about the school shooting. There was nothing I could say that could possibly console them or alleviate all of their fears. My role was primarily one of listening and helping people find words to describe what they were feeling.

In many streams of Jewish thought, as in many other traditions, reflection is thought to be the basis for action. Careful, thoughtful, concerted action in response to what we learn through the reflective process. To the dismay of many, we as a country have not taken decisive action to prevent gun violence.

Gun violence has continued. I and many others feel far too passive as we watch the news and see story after story about it.


NY, NJ clergymen to lobby European gun makers to toughen rules for U.S. sales

Sunday, December 8, 2013
NY Daily News

In a novel approach, the religious leaders fly across the Atlantic on Sunday to push European gun manufacturers, who have a roughly 25% share of the U.S. market, to apply some of the more stringent standards they already follow in their own countries to the weapons they sell in the U.S.

RELATED: THANKSGIVING PRIME TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUNS: GROUP

They want the European gunmakers, for example, to refuse to allow their weapons to be sold through unlicensed gun dealers. They also want the manufacturers to renounce political meddling in the U.S. through contributions to lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association.

Their mission is the work of the Metro Industrial Arts Foundation, better known as Metro IAF, the highly effective grass-roots organizing group that is legendary in New York for building thousands of units of affordable housing.


Opinion: On stop-and-frisk, both sides are wrong

Friday, May 3, 2013
New York Daily News

 

New York City’s unprecedented crime reduction has been remarkable for its scale and persistence. But our city has the bad habit of either taking its successes for granted or losing sight of why and how progress was made. Both supporters and critics of recent police practices — stop-and-frisk in particular — have repeated these mistakes. Supporters incorrectly hold the tactic responsible for building a safer city; critics would have us sacrifice the effective response of the NYPD at the altar of reform.


At Dorchester church, faith leaders, political candidates call for peace, unity in wake of marathon bombings

Monday, April 22, 2013
The Boston Globe

 

Area spiritual leaders from several religions and local political candidates gathered at Saint Mark Parish in Dorchester on Sunday evening to show support and unity after a sequence of brutal violence over the past week.

More than 500 people – a blend of Christians, Jews and Muslims – packed the basement of the century-old Catholic church to pray, reflect, sing and rally together.

Led by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the event also drew candidates running for the US Senate seat vacated by John Kerry and others eyeing the First Suffolk District State Senate seat vacated by John A. Hart Jr.

Planning for the event began several weeks ago. Organizers said they originally intended to ask the candidates to explain their positions on key issues, including gun violence, youth programming, immigration and health care.

But after two deadly bombings on Marathon Monday followed by a manhunt Thursday and Friday that left one police officer dead and another wounded, the forum’s agenda changed.

 

His Father’s Murder Drives a Rabbi’s Pursuit of Gun Control

Friday, April 19, 2013
New York Times

In the months after his father’s murder in early 1999, those months stretching formlessly between the mourning ritual of shiva and the impending trial of a suspect, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher received many messages of solace. There was one type, however, that tested every atom of clerical forbearance he possessed“People said in this trying-to-be-helpful way, ‘This will make you a better rabbi,’ ” Rabbi Mosbacher, 43, recalled. “And nothing made me angrier. I didn’t want to be a better rabbi. I wanted my dad back.” ...While the rabbi had done a bit of tentative speaking on gun control as early as 2000, his commitment accelerated after 2006, when he first learned about the Industrial Areas Foundation. As a legacy of the renowned community organizer Saul Alinsky, the foundation largely mobilizes religious congregations. Its style, far from being earnest, is proudly combative.


Gun control without waiting for Congress

Thursday, April 18, 2013
New York Daily News

Fifty-five days after Newtown, daily reports of bipartisan support for measures to curb gun trafficking vie with photos of caskets holding the bodies of more young victims of violence.

Meantime, it is becoming clear that the progress of new legislation in Congress will be limited by politicians’ fears that aggressive action will cost contributions and votes in pro-gun districts.

Another response, proposed for many years by mayors and our own citizens organizations, does not depend on lawmakers. The purchasing power of the largest buyers of weapons — police departments, the U.S. military and the Homeland Security Department — can and should be used immediately to create a code of responsible conduct for gun manufacturers and gun dealers.


Mayoral hopefuls' plans for public safety should scare New Yorkers witless

Monday, March 25, 2013
New York Daily News

Seven candidates appeared at the third of the mayoral forums sponsored by the Daily News and the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation citizens group. The topic was public safety. All were advised to come prepared to explain how he or she would hold the line on crime or drive it still lower — the central duty of any mayor. All were given the opportunity to present their three most important strategies. Not one of them was convincing or spoke with a semblance of coherence or authority. Since 1990, the city has enjoyed a steady downward trend in felonies. Under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the NYPD has reduced crime to record levels, an achievement that strengthened the foundation of the city’s resurgence. Allow fear to return, and all will be lost, including lives.


Governor signs Collateral Sanction Reform Bill

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Fox News Cleveland

Governor John Kasich met with Greater Cleveland Congregations members Monday to discuss collateral sanctions reforms. "You don't want to look the other way when you have a human being that has a chance to realize their God given potential," Kasich said. With that realization, Kasich ceremonially signed into law the Collateral Sanction Reform Bill. It removes job barriers for nearly 2 million Ohioans with criminal records.

 

 
 

Moving forward on criminal justice reform: Rev. Jawanza Colvin, Rabbi Joshua Caruso and The Very Rev. Tracey Lind

Saturday, June 30, 2012
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 people from the 40 diverse religious and community groups that constitute Greater Cleveland Congregations gathered at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood to speak with one voice: Our state needs criminal justice reform. Senate Bill 337, which revises Ohio's archaic system of collateral sanctions for ex-offenders re-integrating into our communities, is a tremendous step in the right direction, and we celebrate Gov. John Kasich signing this bill into law.


For New York Police, There’s No End to the Stops

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The New York Times

New York City’s public advocate, Bill de Blasioput forward a modest proposal last week. He wants the Police Department to include the number of street stop-and-frisks, which is in a state of geometric expansion, in its weekly review of precinct crime statistics.  A few hours later, a cannonade sounded at City Hall.  “When Bill de Blasio last served in the city’s executive branch, there were 2,000 murders a year,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said. “Mr. de Blasio may be nostalgic for the days when the A.C.L.U. set crime policy in this city, but most New Yorkers don’t want rampant crime to return.”


Why stop and frisk? Here’s a better way

Friday, May 11, 2012
New York Daily News

By  / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Mayor Bloomberg recently invited a group of clergy for a discussion of the Police Department’s stop, question and frisk procedures and their impact in the African-American and Hispanic communities. We attended and appreciated the opportunity to hear the mayor’s views and to share our own.


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