Mayor Ruthanne Fuller at Newton George Floyd Protest

Where are the POC in the Newton Police Force?

I participated in my first rally today at the Line Up for Black Lives in Newton. I’m particularly focused on systemic racism and I’ve always wondered why there are no visible people of color in the Newton police force. Are the POC in the police force all … admin? Are there no POC actual police officers? What are the salary differences?

It was a silent protest and perhaps I shouldn’t have been screaming, but here we are:

But I also ran into Mayor Ruthanne Fuller on the streets among the people protesting and asked her the same question. Her initial answer was that the problem is that there is a very small percentage of minorities in Newton and that the hiring rules are such that residents are first in line to be hired for the police force. That’s the problem that she identified.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller at Newton George Floyd Protest

I said that I thought the Asian population in Newton was 11%. She said that it is, in fact, much higher at 17 to 18%. Latinx population is 5% and African American population is low at 2%. If you add it all up (which I did on the street using my fingers), it adds up to 25%.

Whoa! That was an easy problem to solve. The percentage of minorities is actually not small if you include other ethnicities beyond African American. But I think it’s important to have African American representation, so the next question is WHY is the African American population so low? Is it due to racism that prevents blacks from renting or purchasing homes, particularly on the lower end of the market?

Are there any programs specifically designed to increase the African American population in the new residential buildings currently under construction or planned? Back in the day, Newton used to be where affluent African Americans moved. I am hoping actual historians will help me out, but I heard that the area in Auburndale near the Mass Pike was home to African American artisans. There is a church in that area that bought up homes in that area during the Great Depression and helped house its constituents.

The next issue that Mayor Fuller noted is that minorities are not applying for police jobs. My background is in contingent staffing, so I relayed that recruiting is something that is active, not passive. If you want a particular type of candidate, you must get out there and hustle. The candidates that you seek are not coming to you.

She then asked me to write to her, meet with her, and share my knowledge. Let’s go on this journey together.

Here we go:

Make an analysis of the current police department staff:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Pronouns
  • Number of years in the police force
  • Number of years in the Newton police force
  • Starting salary
  • Current salary
  • Salary last year including overtime
  • Starting position
  • Current position
  • Ethnicity
  • High school
  • Current address
  • Has ever lived in Newton? Yes/No

From this analysis, you can ascertain what the career trajectory has been for the POC in the Newton police force? Have they thrived? Are they mostly admin? Are admin jobs dead-end low paying jobs?

Next, you can identify the POC staff who have thrived. Ask them to join the hiring team to help recruit more POC. You want them front and center at career fairs at Newton North and Newton South High Schools. You want them to talk about career opportunities for people that look like them at the Newton Police force. You want the job postings to funnel through the high schools, targeting high school counselors, teachers who run clubs centered around POC such as, but not limited to:  The Asian Culture Club, Black Leadership Advisory Club, Hispanics and Latinx United (HLU), K-Pop Club, South Asian Student Association, and Transitioning Together (as a career opportunity after the first-to-college students graduate).

It’s not rocket science people! My analogy is “how do you build a national champions sports team when the team has never made the NCAA playoffs?” I want the Newton police force to be best in class. To be “national champions” of diversity. It’s easy to be mediocre. We can expect more from Newton’s finest.

 

Please help me amplify by emailing:

Mayor Fuller at rfuller@newtonma.gov

Newton Police Chief at chiefsoffice@newtonma.gov

 

p.s. Thank you to Ellen Myers for this:

“The Village“ was a thriving neighborhood in Newton where Black Americans, mostly descendants of slaves, lived. Its remnants can be found on Curve Street where Myrtle Baptist Church is. I believe that is the church you are referring to – it’s in West Newton/Auburndale. There is a deeply disturbing history surrounding the building of the Mass Pike and the decision to have it pass through Newton, that basically wiped out “The Village,” taking over the resident’s homes by eminent domain. We had a program about it at the library several years ago at which members of “The Village” community spoke, including Pastor Howard Haywood – may he rest in peace. Here’s an article with more info: https://newton.wickedlocal.com/news/20170228/african-american-community-of-newton-has-long-legacy

 

From The Harvard Gazette:

There’s been progress, Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson says, but the nation needs to reject white supremacist ideology, bigotry in policing, and segregation.

Why America can’t escape its racist roots

“But sociologists have argued that while some whites may have liberal views, a lot of them are not prepared to make the concessions that are important for the improvement of black lives. For example, one of the reasons why people have been crowded in ghettos is the fact that housing is so expensive in the suburbs, and one reason for that is that bylaws restrict the building of multi-occupancy housing. These bylaws have been very effective in keeping out moderate-income housing from the suburbs, and that has kept out working people, among whom blacks are disproportionate, from moving there and having access to good schools. Sociologists have claimed that while we do have genuine improvement in racial attitudes, what we don’t have is the willingness for white liberals to put their money where their mouth is.”

 

My takeaway:

So it sounds like when the Mass Pike was built, whoever decided the path deliberately wanted to wipe out the thriving African American enclave here in Newton. This is a textbook example of structural racism. This is an example of white supremacy. This is our Black Wall Street.

 

Only white people can dismantle white supremacy. You are either trying to tear it down or trying to hold it up. If you are not actively trying to dismantle white supremacy, you have chosen your side.

 

p.s. From Dawn Davis Yoga:

We can’t sit by and not take action, not take a stand against systemic racism and inequalities in economic opportunity and access to health care. I believe in the benefits of yoga and meditation, but they are not substitutes for compassionate action. I have some links below for ideas you may find useful if you’re not quite sure where to put your energy.

A FEW WAYS TO HELP:
**Consider donating to joincampaignzero.org (their main mission is to end police violence through police reform programs)
**Consider supporting Black-Owned Bookstores, such as Million Year Picnic in Cambridge (617)492-6763-curbside pick up and Frugal Bookstore in Boston (617) 541-1722 -on line
**Consider supporting political candidates that represent a point of view that is consistent with moving our country forward

5 ways Everyday Citizens Can Start Holding Police Departments Accountable

From Good

1. Understand the policies and laws that govern police conduct.

2. You are entitled to public records that can show whether rules are being followed. Get them.

3. Identify the power players and engage them.

4. Presenting findings in a fair and persuasive manner is a powerful way to spur reform.

5. Follow up relentlessly until change is made.

 

Related Posts:

Newton Police Stop Black Newton Parent at Gunpoint Minutes Away from His Home

Tim Duncan is the former Deputy Athletic Director at Northeastern University. He is currently the Athletic Director at the University of New Orleans.

Speaking Thursday on Greater Boston, Duncan told Braude that he had experienced something similar twice before in his life, both during traffic stops.

 

Ethnicity Make Up in Newton 2010

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