SACRAMENTO – It was an engaging panel discussion in Sacramento that was a continuation of a gathering in Washington, D.C., that included public safety, community sustainability and mental health.
The importance – as it was presented in the Nation’s capital by the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce (SBCC) early in the fall – is to help bridge the gap and enhance Black lives in the Sacramento region.
The SBCC carried its popular annual forum, “Prosper 2019 – Creating Policy for Sustainability in Underrepresented Communities – Bridging the Gap between Public Safety, Community, and Mental Health” to the University of California Davis – Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing facility.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District, SMUD, was the sponsor for the event.
The panel included Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn, human rights activist Stevante Clark (brother of Stephon Clark), children’s mental health advocate and founder of Mind Change, Jamilia Land and Jose Bodipo-Memba, Director of Sustainable Communities, SMUD.
Larry Lee, publisher of The OBSERVER Newspaper and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, facilitated the discussion.
“It is critical as we think about what healthy and sustainable mean,” said Ms. Rawlings-Blake said. “It means good schools, it means also having our communities to be safe. It also means having a healthy economy and making sure that the businesses and industries that support our communities are the ones that the communities really need.”
SBCC created “Prosper” in 2010 as the national advocacy forum for issues affecting small business in Sacramento. The mission of the SBCC is to ensure member businesses will benefit through services that sustain and increase their revenues.
In addition, the region, its business and its communities benefit through the growth and sustainability of African American businesses. When corporate and government consciousness as good citizens increases – the public benefits.
SBCC has also been front and center identifying important community issues and solutions as the current social injustice in America and most recently in Sacramento with the Stephon Clark case.
The discussion was spirited at times. Especially when Clark and Chief Hanh outlined some things about public safety and how it affects underserved and underrepresented communities.
Clark reiterated to Chief Hahn that he wants the two officers responsible for killing his brother off the streets. Clark also made it clear that the officers, in his perspective, make the community unsafe.
Above all, talks of communities and their relationships with law enforcement such as these must be discussed. It’s also a reason why Hahn has stepped up the department’s efforts in engaging more with the community.
SPD conducts ride-alongs for members of the community, allow the public to see the interworking of the police academy, and provide days of service.
“The reason why we talk about the police because of the immense power we have,” Chief Hahn said. “But we have to address a fundamental issue that has been in this country from day one and nobody has done a whole lot significantly to impact it. So the police are trying to do that. It’s all meant to expand the experiences so that we can have honest conversations that are going to make a real difference,” he added.
The first version of the panel discussion was held during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., in September.
By Antonio Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Video By Russell Stiger Jr.