Gamaliel’s organizing model drives change

Below is a story—A Movement of Families Challenges Power and Myths: Gamaliel’s Organizing Model Drives Change—published yesterday by Marguerite Casey Foundation (MCF) Senior Writer and Community Relations Staff Member, Paul Nyhan, about the organizing work of Gamaliel.  It includes a snapshot of an action on the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, led by MORE2 clergy, leaders, and partners, and an announcement about the launch of Gamaliel’s campaign to end Mass Supervision.

Photography by Mike Kane for Marguerite Casey Foundation

They were all together on that muggy July morning: a reverend, a rabbi, an organizer and a grieving mother sitting in the audience at the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners meeting. Waiting.

They waited to challenge the story of what happened five years earlier when 24-year-old Ryan Stokes was shot and killed by a police officer in the early hours of a July morning.

They came from different races, neighborhoods, faiths and economic backgrounds. But they were connected by a belief that the true story of that deadly night wasn’t being told. They had watched one version play out on the public stage, a story that included commendations for the two officers involved in the shooting. That wasn’t the story they knew.

For years they had waited to tell the story they knew, one that demanded a review of what happened that summer night – and changes. They said almost nothing had changed since the shooting: no overhaul of policies for reviewing police shootings, how suspects are pursued on foot, or how police tell a family one of their members has been shot and killed.

When their turn at the podium finally came, associate minister Kiku Brooks didn’t look at the notes she clutched in her hand. Instead, she shared something else with the commissioners sitting above her on the dais, a silence the Stokes family had felt since that shooting five years ago.

“I came here armed with a hammer to pound into the hearts of everyone in this room – the effects of the involved officers’ actions, and your inactions,” said Brooks, who preaches at Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. “However, when I arrived today I realized I just want to share the tension of silence with you. The silence that his daughter…will hear when it registers to her that her father will never accompany her to any father-daughter dances. He won’t have the honor of walking her down the aisle.”

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