The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
By Lee Winkelman
Reform CA is fighting to end racial profiling in California and we need your help now. My son Henry is 11 years old. When he starts to drive in a few years, I won’t worry that he will be pulled over because of the color of his skin. I am reassured that if Henry is in trouble, a police officer is someone he can turn to when he needs help.
A friend of mine is African American, and he thinks completely differently about the role the police will play in his son’s life when his son is a teenager. He fears his son will be stopped by the police for no good reason, and that such a stop could turn into a violent confrontation, even if his son has done nothing wrong. His son, unlike my boy Henry, will grow up unable to trust the police, viewing them as a threat, not a potential source of aid. There is a good reason why many people of color distrust the police. African Americans are stopped by police more often than whites. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be detained, arrested, charged with a crime and imprisoned than whites, even though people of color are not engaging in illegal behavior at a greater rate than whites. My son and his son are entitled to equal protection under the law, as are we all. My son and his son should be treated equally by the men and women who enforce our laws, but we know that this is not the case Together we must truly make “equal protection” an equal actuality for our young people. Jewish tradition teaches that every one of us is created in God’s image, with equal dignity and equal worth (Genesis 1:27). We Jews react strongly against many African Americans’ and Latinos’ experience of harassment because we are so aware of our own people’s experience of harassment and persecution at many times and places throughout history. We believe deeply that Black lives matter because we know that all lives matter. That is why I am calling and emailing my Assembly Member in California every day this week, urging him to vote for AB 953: Law Enforcement and Racial Profiling. Please join me and reach out to your Assembly Member until the Assembly votes, scheduled tentatively for this Thursday. Fill out our action alert to send a message to your Assembly Member. You can also call your elected official directly. Visit the Find Your Rep website here to get the phone number of your Assembly Member’s office. Please call today (and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow)! When you call, you can speak directly with the staffer who answers or ask to speak with the staff member who handles public safety legislation. You can speak from your heart or use these suggested talking points: Hello, my name is [NAME] and I am a resident of [CITY]. As a part of Reform CA, I am calling to urge Assembly Member [NAME] to support AB 953, which will help address racial profiling by collecting basic information about contacts between law enforcement and Californians. To end biased policing and ensure that all Californians are treated with dignity and respect, we need basic information about who is stopped, why they are stopped and the results of that stop. Please vote yes on AB 953. Thank you. After you’ve contacted your Assembly Member, let us know! If you learn any information about which way your Assembly Members may vote, or want to share your experience speaking with their staff, post it on the Reform CA Facebook group, send an email to your rabbi, or contact one of the Reform CA organizers, myself or Rabbi Jessica Oleon Kirschner. We’d like to thank you and we’d like to be able to track our impact. Lee Winkelman is Lead Organizer for Reform CA, the statewide partnership between Just Congregations, the Religious Action Center and the CCAR, and strengthen the local community organizing efforts of Reform congregations in Southern California.