A Perfect Opportunity to Change the System (Updated)

The two white adult racists who tore down the Frederick Douglass statue (John R. Boedicker, 20, of Endicott, Broome County, andMugshots of 2 white racists Charles J. Milks, 21, of Kenmore) ... lets not "throw the book at them." Hear me out on this. We should use this as an opportunity to transform our criminal justice system. Why these white guys? Because we're all paying attention, that's why. We're all pissed, that's why. The media's paying attention, that's why. I'm sure all the status quo politicians are paying attention, that's why.

So we use restorative justice practices - not just to pay for the damage, but to make them interact with members of the black community who fight systemic racism on a daily basis. Make them leave the community they invaded to get their drink on better than they left it. And all the while, keep the cameras on them, so that they know that we all know who they are.

And when it's "over", we use them as a shining example of how restorative justice works and that we shouldn't be throwing people away. And we INSIST that we start using restorative justice practices with our black and brown brothers and sisters and we don't let up until the politicians in charge make this the law.

We all know that the people in charge are not going to create any kind of progressive change because of something a black or brown person does. Throwing these white guys in jail will not change anything. My interest is not in "saving" these two racists. This is an opportunity for systemic change.  Let's take advantage of the situation.

What do you think?

UPDATE: After a conversation on Facebook about this idea, I was encouraged to expound a bit more on my idea - particularly in terms of exactly who would be facilitating such a process within our criminal justice system.  While it would not be appropriate for me to call out specific individuals for doing this work, I agree that those who do should have a solid background in the historical perspective of the systemic racism that oppresses everyone.  By no means should members of the judicial system or law enforcement be responsible for deciding who will facilitate restorative justice practices.

UPDATE: It's a legitimate point that a lot of white people are calling for RJ in dealing with these two adults, but nary a peep when someone of color is mentioned in the news.  For the record, I've been advocating for Restorative Justice for a while.  Here's an example.  https://archive.org/details/TransformingRochester92



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  • David Sutliff Atias
    commented 2019-01-08 20:51:21 -0500

    By no means have you been “boorish”. We’re having a discussion – that’s one of the benefits of a campaign for public office.

    When elected, I’ll be one of nine people on City Council, and the first non-Democrat in 35 years, so for anything I try to achieve, it will take public support and organizing.

    I’m ready for the challenge.
  • David Sutliff Atias
    commented 2019-01-07 22:11:12 -0500
    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for commenting. My reason for using this episode is two-fold, but both reasons are connected in terms of the timing. It was already planned to release a call for RJ during the campaign, but the publicity around this incident and the discussions it spurred was an opportunity to bring the issue up while people were focused on crime & punishment.

    The underpinnings of systemic racism, particularly in how people of color are covered by the media, brought me to assess that both the media and voters would be more open to the concept of incorporating RJ if it was discussed using white criminals. It was a purposeful decision.

    I have a history of working with local social justice groups such as the Police Accountability Board Alliance and Enough is Enough. From my experience with these groups as well as my own personal research and reflection, a white person such as myself recommending what should happen to people of color who are arrested is more problematic than using this instance to introduce my stance on RJ.

    But again, I appreciate your comment. It made me think even more deeply about this campaign and why I’m running. Please let me know if there are any other issues you’d like to discuss.

  • David Sutliff Atias
    commented 2018-12-21 12:10:00 -0500
    That is a great idea, Rosalie. If Restorative Justice became a systemic solution, I would like to have the Circle of Courage concept incorporated into the structure.