The NAACP Maryland State Conference is elated with the recent news of Montgomery County involving the Healthy Kids Campaign. On March 1, the County Council passed healthy kids meals legislation by an 8-1 vote. While the policy ensures healthier food and beverages for kids’ meals at county restaurants, it still allows adults to purchase any items for the kids in their care.
The signing of this bill by County Executive Marc Elrich is the first step to making the healthy choice the easy choice for families at our area eating establishments. While the passage of the Healthy Kids bill is a win for Montgomery County families, our work at the NAACP Maryland State Conference is not done. We are committed to helping to create the healthiest environment possible for all children to have healthy options when they dine out. The health of our kids should always come first, and we can and must do better for the health and well-being of our kids.
The new law, which will take effect in 2023, makes healthier drinks like water, 100% fruit juice, or milk the automatic options on kids’ menus and ensures that at least one kids’ meal follows nationally recommended nutrition standards, limiting calories, sugar, sodium, and fat, and making sure fruit and veggies are included in the meal.
With the enactment of this policy, Montgomery County follows neighboring Prince George’s County, which became the first place in the country to establish compressive healthy kids meals for kids in 2020.
We thank lead sponsors Councilmembers Craig Rice, Gabe Albornoz, and the County Council for taking a first step to make each day healthier for all kids in Montgomery County.
NAACP Maryland State Conference Voices Solidarity for Justice in Statement on the Murder of Mr. George Floyd
The NAACP Maryland State Conference President Flowers released the following statement regarding the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officers:
The NAACP Maryland State Conference grieves for the loss of our brother George Floyd who was murdered violently in Minneapolis, MN on Monday, May 25, 2020. This murder continues a pattern of White Supremacy and a gross abuse of power that are the most insidious aspects of our nation’s history. These systemic patterns must come to an end.
Like other acts of hatred before the murder of Mr. Floyd, this horrific incident reinforces the urgent need to work together to put measures in place to prevent violent acts like this one from ever happening again.
Murdering citizens does the opposite of community building by tearing the community apart when it should be the job of law enforcement to bring the community together. It also brings shame and stigma to officers who work for the good of the communities they serve.
In the state of Maryland, we encourage every law enforcement entity to use the horror of Minneapolis to serve as fuel to re-commit to community & police relations with the intention of serving together to not only protect the community but also to unify to resolve the long-term challenges with social determinants of health that commonly stifle American communities.
The NAACP Maryland State Conference stands in solidarity with Mr. Floyd’s family, the Minneapolis City Branch, and the Minnesota State Conference in the aftermath of this heinous killing. We encourage all residents of Maryland to work in your local communities to build stronger relations with law enforcement and support the positive actions of those leading on the ground in Minneapolis to achieve justice for Mr. Floyd.
Our fight for justice is a steadfast continuous process that requires relentless urgency and commitment from all of us. We must journey together, or we will continue to fall apart.
The recent arrest of the lead officer Derek Chauvin is a welcomed update but we encourage everyone to continue to advocate for justice in this case with the hope that the conviction fits the crime of murder.
NAACP - Maryland State Conference
If you were able to make the NAACP National Town Hall call on Sunday night, you should be energized to activate local steps to protect yourself and your community. From here we must organize our own structure to lead the state of Maryland.
From the briefing you should have heard that there are plans for the federal government to extend funding for health organizations, to enact paid leave, and to seed bridge loans for small businesses. There is also an effort to build capacity for COVID-19 testing, but as you heard, testing will start with health care workers and folks in direct contact with a lot of people. Testing for everyday grassroots people will be in order of triage. Be patient. Those most sick and then everyone else.
Such is the process. This means that our roles as grassroots civil rights organizations and others are more important now than ever. We should use our built-in information networks to expand best practices to support the vulnerable end user or the citizens in most need or resources. This is the role we play every day. We should also collaborate and advocate to support local health agencies or first responders. The challenge of healthcare and human services agencies has always been funding community organizing and outreach. This should be a time to accept that reality as a weakness and improve it with funding moving forward.
Let me remind you that the leaders on the call were speaking from the macro level of concern. They have done their jobs. Again, the call, for me, was a reminder that local people and local agencies have to take it from here. We have to share the message in our own voices so that the following points are heard loud and clear:
There is a long list of things that you can do to reduce exposure to the virus:
It is not the end of the world to turn inward. There are many mindfulness modalities that we all can participate in to keep our minds sharp and our bodies strong. Here are several: running, walking, yoga, meditation, tai chi, qi gong, martial arts, painting, gardening, organizing your closet, landscaping, cooking, learning a coding language. Write letters again, read a book, sew, knit, learn social media, advocate for change, create a new social media community or support group, laugh, and love. Remember that itemizing our abundance is a practice, but detaching from things can bring us more. There are many things we can do at the moment.
More importantly, during this period of assessment, recommit yourself to the NAACP. We are an organization with a long history of service. Our leaders are on the forefront of this crisis in our communities and that means a lot considering past after-the-fact discussions about the whereabouts of our leaders during Katrina and other natural disasters that are well known for neglecting Black and Brown communities.
Finally, we should applaud President Derrick Johnson for organizing the call. That shows vision. He has used his influence to hopefully inspire our members. From this point on, the micro or grassroots work is for us to do. Please work to control your environment and proceed with concern and care. We are in a different place as a community and as a state.
Get the facts. Avoid rumors and conspiracy theories. They can be more harmful than the virus itself. There are many lines of resources, so pursue with concern for your family and use sources that you trust and have connections to long term. They will not fail you. Click on the COVID-19 Alerts link above for verified information. You can also find information at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov.
If you are a community leader at the state or county level please sign up to subscribe to the NAACP Maryland State Conference list so you can be added to future tele-conferences to report resources,
NAACP, Maryland State Conference
We are in the Sixth week of the year and already the State of Maryland has recorded two deaths in separate counties while the deceased were in police custody. The first account was a matter of a taser incident in Baltimore County on January 21, 2020. It has been reported that Gamel Antonio Brown, age 30, died after he was tasered in Owings Mills, MD. The President of the Baltimore County NAACP branch has been briefed and updated.
Exactly one week later in Prince George's County, there was another incident. This time a handgun shooting, killed William Green, 43, while he was handcuffed in a police cruiser. The police officer, Michael Owen, who is a Corporal has been charged with Second-Degree Murder, as well as Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter, First Degree Assault and Use of a Firearm in a Crime of Violence. It has also been uncovered that Owen has been involved in 2 documented shootings in 2009 and 2011. The 2011 incident involved another homicide.
Another unfortunate police incident, recently, involves the arrest and abuse of a grandmother by a Baltimore County police. In a detailed video from body camera footage, aggressive policing is documented and has been made public by the Baltimore County Government. Ren Mullerson, a 76 year old grandmother, was assaulted and arrested in front of young family members, neighbors and taken to jail in handcuffs after her door was broken into by the arresting officer - who was actually in pursuit of Ms. Mullerson's granddaughter, Cierra Floyd. Both Ms. Mullerson and Ms. Floyd were arrested. Ms. Mullerson is being represented by attorney J. Wyndal Gordon.
These and all incidents of this type continue to deteriorate relations between the Minority communities and Law Enforcement. In both the Baltimore County incidents, tasers were in hand as an alternative to the threat of a handgun. However, in the incident involving Ms. Mullerson, the video footage shows the officer using the taser gun in a threatening manner, escalating the situation and potentially triggering anxiety. The combination of the officer’s demeaning language; his attempt to overpower a grandmother at the door; and ultimately crashing the door; fostered a volatile situation. Frankly, it could have been much worse outcome.
There is clearly a need to revisit police training - even in suburban areas. It is apparent that there is a need for implicit bias training; an understanding of restorative practice in street policing; the development of the skill of embracing community policing in suburban communities. Clearly, there is a disconnect between Police and the neighborhoods they are supposed to serve well. Training on new policies and best practices need to be implemented and should be prioritized by law enforcement leadership. The community and the police need to collaborate on restoring trust and to redefine the role of the police.
University of Maryland professor and social scientist Kris Marsh, Ph.D. in the city of Bowie, MD is advancing these efforts. As a resident, she saw the value of sharing her professional body of work with the local police district. She approached the police district about implicit bias training and connected the dots on building better police community relations in her neighborhood. This All Hands Onboard approach supports the premise of community. Read More on this approach and training here:
Another example of support from a local community that is gone nationwide is the story of A.J. Ali who was racially profiled while walking in a Maryland county where he lived. Ali, an African American man, was ultimately detained by police in Howard County, MD. He used this experience to address the need for more compassionate policing strategies that promote love as a solution to build community and police relations. He has made it his mission to improve police-community relations and teach people how to love their neighbor. His film and community work is making a difference, including a noticeable difference in Howard County. Strategies and movie may be viewed here: www.loveistheanswermovement.com/the-movie
Additionally, the Howard County Branch of the NAACP has programmed informal meetings, outings and events to collaborate with the Howard County Police over the past three years. This efforts to engage one another via an annual flag football game with the officers, community organizations and Howard County Community College has been fruitful - people have developed relationships and brainstormed tactics that make the community work better together. The NAACP and Howard County police have joined forces to raise funds for youth programs and have created a project to support First Responders and military veterans with PTSD. Further, the NAACP and Howard County police have worked on deescalating community threats that may have otherwise produced negative outcomes.
Because of the shifting demographics in the State of Maryland, we are all experiencing change. This shift provides opportunities for police and communities to effectively work together to ensure that all of our neighborhoods are safe. The NAACP Maryland State Conference recommends that local police districts, the Fraternal Orders of Police, county governments, community and civic organizations should immediately take steps necessary to facilitate community collaboration towards effective suburban policing. Implicit bias briefings, cultural competency training and an understanding of the shift from the traditional criminal justice policing to one that builds community trust should be implemented. Police leadership should adopt an attitude of diversity, equity and inclusion that compels police districts to get in tune with the communities they serve.
Much has been made over the years of actions and pitfalls of urban policing. Both the District of Columbia and Baltimore City police have weathered crisis while the suburbs have absorbed its own challenges. Culturally competent policing is one of those challenges. It important for law enforcement to be trained to face the various dynamics of mental illness within the community and to deal with their own stress or trauma. The reality of these many details should be reviewed and the impact on suburban society should be studied. We must all collaborate to build community and not divide it. There should never be an incident where the police are accused of abusing their power. Even the appearance of that sets us back.
This is a Watershed Moment for communities to become stronger and not a time for institutions to become more divided. Immediate solutions from all stakeholders and perspectives are required at this moment. Systemic racism within police districts and within suburban planning designs is a real issue that must be addressed. But again everyone has to be at the table. Collaboration and understanding are the cement to build moving forward.
NAACP - Maryland State Conference