In August of 2017, Sacramento ACT began a process to develop a new Theory of Change to guide our work for the next five years. We formed a team that included board members, staff and leaders. We designed questions for a research phase during which time we would seek to understand the political, economic and faith landscape of Sacramento, the major challenges facing our region, and the perception and role of ACT now and in the future.
The team conducted over 30 research meetings between September 2017 and March 2018 with public officials from both Sacramento city and county, representatives of 3 school districts, local activists and non-profits, members of the immigrant community, and representatives of the philanthropic, union, media, and business sectors. We also met with ACT’s faith leader caucus, Local Organizing Committees, and brought findings for discussion to ACT leadership assemblies. This is the picture that emerged from our research.
Sacramento sits at a crossroads of identity. Will we become a city, county and region that prioritizes racial and economic equity, a region that is truly diverse with opportunities for all to participate? Or will be become a region dominated by the demands of the privileged? Poised on the edge of our future, we face choices. Sacramento can choose to become the city where there is inclusion of income diversity or it can push out current residents in favor of wealthier newcomers. Will Sacramento invest in all of its neighborhoods, with special attention to those who have experienced disinvestment? Or will resources be concentrated in the downtown core?
In February 2018, Policy Link published two important reports on Sacramento whose findings support our research: Advancing Health Equity and Inclusive Growth in the Sacramento Region and Health Equity Now: Toward an All-In Sacramento.
by The Rev. Dr. Mary E. Westfall
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mother’s sons
“Ella’s Song,” Sweet Honey in the Rock
Standing arm in arm with faith leaders in the shadow of the Convention Center on that bright Tuesday morning, tensions rippling through the air, I was reminded of how often white Christians have failed to show up, speak out, stand with, risk safety or reputation on behalf of People of Color. With demonstrators at our backs and counter-protestors in front, I felt a compelling responsibility to stand firm, ignoring the rising fear in the pit of my stomach and the urge to be someplace else. As the intensity increased I watched more and more blue-uniformed police fill the space around us. Those nearest our “line” were bicycled officers – some of them looking so young and fresh-faced, others with gruff demeanor and weary looking eyes. Behind them gathered their more threatening looking colleagues armed with weapons that dispense tear gas, rubber bullets, electrical shock, in addition to the guns strapped to their bodies or carried in their arms. A chilling sight, seeming so out of place at a peaceful demonstration on the streets of the State Capitol on a beautiful September day.
Early afternoon the warning came, blasted over the police bullhorn, ordering us to leave or risk arrest or being fired upon. I have never been shot by rubber bullets or found myself gasping from tear gas, but I was aware of so many who had experienced such abuses and worse in pursuit of justice, freedom, human integrity. Over my shoulder I looked at the young activists, the brave bodies sliding into fabricated coffins to represent those who have been murdered by police and ahead of me I gazed upon a blue-clad phalanx poised to act. I thought of the mothers who have cradled the bodies of their bullet-riddled children, the young black men stopped in their cars merely for being black, the daily fears and tensions that do not fill my life but do fill the lives of so many. I remembered a challenge that came from a woman of color years ago declaring that things would not change until white people were willing to risk safety on behalf of People of Color.
Humbled by those who face fear daily, yet persist in pursuit of justice, ashamed of the systemic racism that crushes so many, reminded of the unearned privilege with which I move through the world, the words of a song rose within me, “until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons. . . is as important as the killing of white men. . . .we cannot rest until it comes.“ While the killing continues we cannot rest. We stand, together.
Photos by Elika Bernard
Sacramento Area Congregations Together (Sac ACT) stands as a collective of faith communities with a common purpose of equity and fairness for all. Such a mission is only achieved through accountability and transparency in policy and practice.
We were dismayed when Sacramento County Sheriff, Scott Jones shut down an authorized independent review by the Inspector General of his department’s fatal shooting of an emotionally troubled African American man. To further assert how “untouchable” he is, he stood before the County Board of Supervisors and proclaimed that the rules of the Sacramento County charter do not apply to him. (Board of Supervisors moves to replace Sheriff’s department watchdog after lockout)
Where are we headed when law enforcement itself is ABOVE THE LAW? Has the county of Sacramento become a region of LAWLESSNESS?
Sacramento ACT stands firmly opposed to Sheriff Scott Jones’ resistance to submit to independent oversight and inspection.
We are asking that Sheriff Jones, an elected official, be held accountable and that the Board of Supervisors require a strong, independent review of the Sheriff’s department. This department exists as an agent of protection and service for the residents of Sacramento County. Therefore, Sac ACT views his rejection of oversight as an abuse of a sacred trust and an abuse of power. We insist that the Sheriff’s department, like every other county department, does not have the authority to operate in a vacuum. This department operates for the good of the public and must be subject to review on their behalf.