COVENANT BLU GRAND CENTER – A group plans to use the Oct. 22 National Day Against Police Brutality as an opportunity to launch a new campaign to overhaul the city’s public safety priorities.
The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) wants the city to spend less money on policing and incarceration and more money on housing, education, jobs and health care.
“St. Louis already has a high number of police per capita. We invest over 50 percent of our budget arresting and incarcerating. What we’ve gotten is mass incarceration and disruptions of communities, especially communities of color, and high crime rates. And (public safety) hasn’t been successful,” said CAPCR co-chair John Chasnoff.
“We need to shift our city budget priorities,” he said. “To do so, at this year’s O22, (CAPRC) will launch our campaign to divest from policing and re-invest that money in our communities.”
O22 is a national effort that designates October 22 as National Day Against Police Brutality. Chasnoff said CAPCR has been participating in O22 for 19 years and past activities have included protests and educational workshops.
But this year, CAPCR is taking a different approach. The 022 event was formerly called “Re-visioning Public Safety” and the group is renaming the event “Reinvesting in Public Safety.”
“This year we decided to take what has been an education project and turn it into a campaign that impacts the city budget,” Chasnoff said.
CAPCR was established in 1983. According to its website, the group’s mission is to end police crimes, the criminalization of communities and the prison-industrial complex. In 2015, the group was instrumental in getting the police department’s Civilian Oversight Board established.
“We’ve been around a long time working on police issues,” Chasnoff said. “We’ve run these campaigns before and we’re excited to be working on this one.”
The group’s O22 activities will include presentations by two nationally-known speakers. Anthropologist Jara Connell will oversee an interactive exercise examining the perception of police work versus the reality of what police actually do, and a presentation by attorney Marbre Stahly-Butts, co-director of Law for Black Lives and a member of the leadership team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table.
Chasnoff said the group expects about 150 attendees to the free event. He said participants will be given a chance to help out with the campaign.
“We’re going to be doing some next steps to get some folk signed-up,” Chasnoff said. “We’ll be (needing help with) campaigning, research and canvassing.”
The National Day Against Police Brutality event will be held Oct. 22, from 6-8pm, at the Deaconess Foundation, 1000 N. Vandeventer St. Go to http://www.capcr-stl.org for more information.