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December 13, 2022: Clergy and Police Luncheon

DEC 13, 2022- 12 Noon at Police Headquarters

1 Police Plaza, I attended a very important luncheon, which has far reached implications for the future of the city in general, police and community relations in particular. It was sponsored by the Uniting Clergy

Community and Police Coalition. Some of the clergy leaders of the group are Bishops : Albert

Jamison, Gerald Seabrooks, Eric Figueroa, Mitchell Taylor. Also, Chief Organizer Bishop Ismael Claudio. Bishop Claudio presided over the meeting. Also present was Edward Caban, First Deputy Commissioner, and Police Administrator Juanita Holmes, Chief of the Training Bureau. Top

officials in the administration Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor, and Reverend

Gilford Monrose Faith Advisor/Executive Director, Office of Faith-Based and Community

Partnerships were also present.

Among the police chiefs were also chaplains. A special police presence was Officer Barbara

Williams. She has been on the force many many years. I’ve been knowing her, for all those years

and more. I have a special connection with her. She is the niece of the Reverend John Lawrence,

a revered evangelist years ago. He played an integral part in my life. My mother sent him to me,

when I was a youth in trouble with the law. He stayed with me and was my mentor. She even

allowed me to travel with him, we remained together till the end of his life.

Each one of the clergies, including the chaplains made short speeches. The police chief and

administration official's presentations we’re longer. I was allowed as much time as I desired. In

my remarks, I said, “I have been in this place, 1 Police Plaza, many times. Most of the time, it was

of a critical nature. I was either going to jail, or being locked up, or leading a delegation critical of

police behavior.” I said that “I knew all of the police chiefs from Robert Maguire, Ben Ward, Lee

Brown, Ray Kelly, etc. Ray Kelly, I liked very much.” He spent about 45 minutes with me when

I was in the hospital. You don’t forget those acts of kindness and compassion.

Practically all of the police commissioners try to do the right thing, but encountered a stiff

inflexible structure. This and other reasons why we call the police force systemic racism.

I emphasized, that this was a special moment. For if police and clergy can work together, they would

have a positive influence on their relationship with the city. Then if they can get the other two P’s

organized and working together in cooperation with them, it would make for a model relationship

and a model city.

The other two Ps are politicians and the power of the city i.e., the mayor of the city. So, if we have

preachers, police, politicians, and the mayor on the same page what a powerful effect he would

have and the city and beyond. I'll conclude, by saying, this is a great moment. We owe it to each

other, to our communities, to the city and to the world beyond not to blow it, but to seize this

moment, it may never come again.

Accompanying me to the meeting was Bishop Freddie Arnold. I just participated in the memorial

service for his son Julian Arnold. Julian was killed November 7th, in an unintended crossfire.

The killer(s) were in a car, and the intended victim ran into the backyard of the home of Julian ‘s

parents. They kept shooting and hit Julian.

I suggested to the parents, in my presentation at the ceremony three things:

1. We must continue to pursue justice.

2. We must think through and research programs that can reach out to young people and

put them on the right track. (As I did with the mayor of the city Eric Adams when he was

a youth.)

3. We ought to do some things that will perpetuate the memory of Julian. We must

not allow his memory to be buried with him in the grave.

I cited an African proverb, that my wife loves to quote. “As long as a person’s name is spoken in

the village, they never die.”

I suggested that we can do two things:

1. We can have a street naming. we can name the street Julian Arnold Blvd. and

therefore, anyone traversing anywhere on the street, would have to remember that there

was once a young lad 19 years old with the promise of young productive long life, that

was killed on this block.

2. The second thing that we can do is to organize a scholarship program. With our scholarship program we would give scholarships to the college-bound students, the criteria for receiving the scholarship would require an essay on the life and times of Julian Arnold.

After the luncheon was over, Bishop Arnold and I spent time discussing how we would

move in the future. What we can do together to create understanding, programs, to

address our young people in particular. And to make this a better city and indeed make

this a better world.

As we made ready for the photo op, one of the top officials whispered to me, “I am so grateful we

stand on your shoulders.” It was a memorable moment, when a person who has been appointed to a top governmental or corporate position recognizes that it's on the shoulders of others it is for me a memorable moment I’ve heard and seen too often, people in high positions either completely forget how they got there or think they got there solely on their qualifications or something special about them.

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