Hundreds of Savannah residents gathered in Forsyth Park last Saturday, June 6, 2020 for a peaceful rally organized by Savannah’s Political Rascals group. A “Call to Action” was the message sent out to the community in response to the need to focus and concentrate on resources within various organizations and other programs that are addressing the inequalities that persist in America. Several representatives from local organizations presented to the audience their role in creating positive change.
“Now is what’s next,” said event organizer Moncello Stewart. The reason to organize the rally at this time was to take advantage of the energy fueled by the recent demonstrations of the killings of unarmed African Americans.
Mayor Johnson announced the appointment of a blue-ribbon task force to investigate and provide solutions for inequities and disparities of all kinds. He was pleased to let it be known that former Mayor Dr. Otis Johnson would be part of this task force to lead the way to a brighter day for the community. Mayor Johnson has accepted the challenge. During the alliance’s “Anguish and Action: Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Violence” town hall meeting Wednesday, President Obama asked mayors to take a pledge to review use of force policies within their communities and commit to reporting on planned reforms before prioritizing their implementation.
The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is calling on mayors to commit to the following actions: 1. REVIEW your police use of force policies. 2. ENGAGE your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences and stories in your review. 3. REPORT the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback. 4. REFORM your community’s police use of force policies.
“Most of these activities fall in line with the 21st Century Policing recommendations, which I am proud to say is largely followed by the Savannah Police Department,” Mayor Johnson said. “Savannah is well-positioned to swiftly and properly respond to this challenge, and we will lead and ensure we are responsive to and responsible toward those we serve.” Many people continue to be angered by the recent activities we see and hear about in our communities. We must continue to ask ourselves, “Where do we go from here, chaos or community?” Last Saturday, we saw an effort to bring us closer to the community and further away from chaos. A new civil rights organization, “Movement Matters” is starting in Savannah to fill the void and bring solutions to address the societal ills we see in Savannah. We know that Savannah needs strong advocates for minority owned businesses, quality education, workforce development, environmental justice, criminal justice and a number of other issues. Movement Matters seeks to be a transformational organization linking the community to the resources needed to create true change.
Other speakers included Police Chief Roy Minter, local activist Lillian Grant-Baptiste, and Richard Shinhoster. Stewart concluded the rally by thanking the policemen for their support and understanding the issues.