The Twin Cities Community was filled with sadness, fear, frustration, and anger in the days and weeks following the killing of George Floyd on May 25th. Chicago Avenue and 38th Street became the epicenter in denouncing racism and calling for police reform locally, nationally and globally. Our CSJ 2019 Chapter Directions have taken on a clarifying urgency to deepen awareness of our complicity, the need to work towards dismantling interlocking systems of oppression, to acting against racism, and to promote peace and nonviolence. These chapter directions are not merely nice words, but a humbling challenge to be prophetic in light of the signs of these times. Six months ago, we joined countless others seeking concrete actions to promote a more just world truly for all. The Congregational Leadership Team challenged all CSJ provinces together with their Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) team members to mobilize with others to work with our U.S. Senators to pass federal legislation to reform policing.

This legislation stalled and was never brought before the U.S. Senate. We know that this work for systemic change is painstakingly slow. We need to be in this work for the long haul. Thirty-eight members of the St. Paul Province, including Sisters, Consociates, SJWs, the Justice Commission, and partners in mission, met with Minnesota Senator Tina Smith’s office on November 12th to share our hopes for federal reform of policing. Even though Senator Smith sponsored the original George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (SR 39.12), we challenged Samantha Marcy, Senator Smith’s National Security Police Advisor, for bolder leadership from Senator Smith. For in Senator Smith’s own words, “We cannot squander this moment, and we need transformative change.” The CSJ community through our personal stories and thoughtful advocacy share our hopes for bolder reforms including ending qualified immunity, banning chokeholds, and designating lynching as a federal crime.

Ms. Marcy listened to our concerns and shared that Senator Smith prefers to and plans to pursue “bi-partisan” reform of policing legislation such as the Supporting Innovation in Public Safety Act, which would provide federal grants to individual police departments for exploring alternative ways to policing. Her advisor also shared the hope for the next session of Congress and the incoming presidential administration.

This critical systemic change work locally and nationally to end discrimination and reform our policing institutions continues. We need your voice. We hope to continue our collective work together with others for policies to reform policing. Join us for follow up visits with both our MN Senators in the coming months.  Also watch for opportunities with Legislative Advocacy Partners (LAP) advocacy actions alerts throughout this upcoming 2021 MN State Legislative Session.