American Means Prison Initiative’s Statement on the City of Jackson’s Crime and Justice Summit
“Don’t be surprised when I say I was in prison, you’re still in prison. That’s what America means: prison.” –Malcolm X
April 19, 2018
During a city council meeting held on February 27, 2018, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced that the city would host a Crime and Justice Summit. This announcement was made following acts of police violence taken against residents by the Jackson Police Department and came on the heels of community demands for justice, transparency and accountability with respect to JPD. Individuals from the American Means Prison Initiative (AMP), a grassroots community initiative, aimed at addressing police state violence and supporting communities impacted by the violence and dehumanization of incarceration was present during the February 27th council meeting. AMP laid out five concrete demands to the Lumumba administration regarding how it could address police violence against residents. The list of demands put forward by AMP were: 1) Fire all officers involved in police violence against residents; 2) Release JPD’s use of force policy; 3) Release the names of officers involved in acts of violence against residents; 4) Conduct an internal audit into all policies, procedures and practices of JPD and allow the community to be involved at every stage of the process; and 5) Establish a human rights charter and an elected human rights commission with subpoena and investigative powers to ensure that all resident’s human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Instead of addressing any of the demands put forth by AMP, the mayor announced that the city would be holding a Crime and Justice Summit on April 19, 2018 so that the community could address developing such accountability measures such as a civilian review board and expressed that the larger community should be involved in developing police accountability measures.
It has been nearly two months since the mayor made his initial announcement regarding the city’s Crime and Justice Summit. However, the city has not undertaken any serious efforts to publicize the summit to residents of Jackson. No information has been disseminated amongst the public about the scope and purpose of the summit. Residents have not had any meaningful opportunity to give input on what the agenda of the summit should be. The city has never published any calls for proposals or given the community any opportunity to shape the process.
With very little advertisement or opportunity for democratic participation from residents of Jackson, it appears that the very people the mayor said he wants to be involved have been shut out of any substantive democratic participation in the summit. It is the position of AMP that this is totally unacceptable and that the lack of substantive opportunity for community participation is an infringement on resident’s democratic right to make decisions that directly impact their lives. The city’s Crime and Justice Summit is not a people-centered processed predicated upon the human rights principles of equity, participation, accountability, universality and transparency. Instead, it is city-centered, shaped and controlled. The press release sent out to media regarding the summit mentions the participation of police and city officials, but nothing about the community at large.
With the poorest and blackest communities under siege by federally led programs such as Project Empower Jackson Expel Crime Together (EJECT), anti-gang raids and violence being exacted on residents by JPD, AMP renews its aforementioned demands. We call on the Lumumba administration to take serious its duty to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of residents and to bring police terror and violence against residents to a halt.
For more information on the work and mission of AMP, we can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org