Residents and police share pain and take action together after tragedy

Abdur-Rashid Ali, an African-American Muslim leader and community activist in Cincinnati, expected the worst when he sat down in a dialogue with a young, white police officer from the other side of town.

“We looked at each other and said, ‘Oh, man. This is going to be a problem here,’” Ali said.

Fifteen minutes into the discussion, Ali said he decided to listen to the officer.

“Then he started listening back, and we had mutual respect,” Ali said. “The longer we talked about the issues, in-depth, we were able to find common ground, and we got away from differences to finding solutions to things.”

The 10 people in Ali’s circle became friends and continued to meet in each other’s homes for dinner. Several of the participants even took action on one of their own ideas, and began visiting neighborhood schools to talk to students about drug and violence prevention.

At the same time, another initiative was under way in Cincinnati to develop a landmark collaborative agreement to improve policing in the city. The agreement settled a racial-profiling lawsuit brought by African-American leaders against the police department, and led to many reforms. The study circle dialogues provided a way for residents and police to review the agreement.

Read the full article at Everyday Democracy


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