North Texas Organizer Says Cities Should Divest From Police Departments | KERA News

North Texas Organizer Says Cities Should Divest From Police Departments

Jun 6, 2020

People in North Texas and across the country are continuing to protest police brutality against black people. Local organizer Sara Mokuria is calling for alternatives to policing.

Mokuria has been going to protests over the past several days, but she says police brutality is nothing new.

"This happens every day in America, multiple times a day, there have been multiple police shootings since George Floyd had been killed," she said. "The brutality of policing is an everyday occurrence."  

While people are protesting because of these killings, Mokuria said, they're also calling for changes in policing and the justice system.

"We cannot use the criminal justice system as a catch-all for every societal ill in our community and in our society. It doesn't work, it isn't working, it hasn't worked," Mokuria said. "People are pushing for something different, and something new." 

Mokuria is the co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality – the organization advocates against racism and discrimination. She said the group’s goal is to pay attention to the most vulnerable in society.

Mokuria's personal experience having a loved one killed by police is part of why she helped form the group.

"My father was killed by Dallas police officers in front of me and my family in our family home here in Dallas in 1992," she said. "And so, we as family members, and allies, and supporters believe that we have to divest from policing and the carceral state." 

Divestment, or cities getting rid of their police departments, is a concept generating a lot of attention in recent days.

About 60% of the city of Dallas' budget goes to public safety, but Mokuria said people don't feel safe. She said when protestors say "defund the police," what they're really saying is "fund the community."

Mokuria said she believes it is realistic to develop an alternative to policing.

"We have had a world without mass incarceration, we've had a world without police before. In the history of the world, it exists. It exists in other parts of this world," she said. "Do we have the courage, do we have the right leadership to make it happen? I don't know, but the momentum right now says 'we won't stop until we get it.'" 

Protests continue in North Texas as COVID-19 continues to upend lives. Cases of the disease are rising in Dallas County – reaching record daily highs in recent days. But Mokuria said even COVID-19 won't stop people from protesting.

"With the threat of a virus that can take your life and kill your family members, hundreds of thousands of people across this country are willing to risk going out into the streets," she said. "That should tell you the level of crisis our country is in." 

Much of the protests have been peaceful, but many protesters across the country have been pepper sprayed, tear gassed and shot with foam or rubber bullets by police.

"All of these people who now have their stories of being brutalized by the police, there's new people every single day," Mokuria said, adding people will continue to protest in defense of the lives of black people.

Got a tip? Email Galilee Abdullah at Gabdullah@KERA.org.

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