Firm seeks community’s input for racial bias in Charleston Police Department

February 7, 2019. The Post and Courier.

Inside a meeting hall at Ebenezer AME Church on Charleston’s East Side Thursday night, Fouche Sheppard shared a story of how she was pulled over by a police officer she believed had profiled her.

The officer told her he thought she was an African American male before letting her go, she said.

Sheppard’s story was one of a handful shared during the first town hall meeting held as part of an eight-month, $158,556 racial bias audit of the Charleston Police Department by the Virginia-based firm CNA. Although small in attendance, a number of residents from the East Side neighborhood shared personal stories, suggestions on ways to increase community collaboration with police and asked questions about how a police department that seems to have drifted away from true, community-level policing can begin to right the course. 

Housing prices still unaffordable for most in Charleston region, burdening workforce

January 26, 2019. The Post and Courier.

Even as more people over the past year have called for action on the affordable housing shortage in the Charleston region, typical rents and home prices remain higher than what most workers can pay.

In late 2017, The Post and Courier analyzed local housing trends and salary data, revealing that much of the workforce couldn’t afford to live where they worked in the center of the region. As a result, teachers, police officers and hospitality workers were moving farther away into the edges of town for cheaper housing — adding more commuters to an already congested roads system.

Opponents of Douglas County Jail expansion not assuaged by cheaper plan

January 21, 2019. Lawrence Journal-World.

After Douglas County staff trimmed a cost estimate for an expansion of the local jail by $21 million, the most outspoken opponents to the first plan have not changed their tune.

Several local groups formed the Jail No coalition last March to oppose a May 2018 ballot question — Proposition 1 — that asked voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund behavioral health services and a $44 million expansion of the jail. In the election, voters defeated the measure 53 percent to 47 percent, or by more than 1,500 votes.

Restorative justice events planned to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

January 19, 2019. Lawrence Journal-World.

Ben MacConnell understands the dangers of attaching opinions on a modern issue to someone who can’t speak for himself, but he believes Martin Luther King Jr. would be a strong proponent of criminal justice reform.

“Given the billions of dollars we’re spending on jails and prisons, and the fact that more people of color are incarcerated than there were slaves at the height of slavery, he would be looking at this and, I think, want to spend a lot of time focused on it,” MacConnell said.

Editorial: Faith-based advocates take on challenge of affordable housing

January 11, 2019. The Columbus Dispatch.

It’s a good indicator that an issue is worthy of some attention when the local faith communities that join forces as B.R.E.A.D. identify it as their focus for the year.

For 2019, we agree with the interfaith group that a lack of affordable housing in Columbus and Franklin County is deserving of more effort from multiple quarters, public and private alike, to narrow the unconscionable and growing lack of safe housing for low-income families.