Moses Family Statement

Malaika Moses has submitted this letter to the City Council on behalf of Janet Moses and the Moses family, with the support of several hundred signatures from residents of Cambridge.

The full statement:

My name is Malaika Moses. I am a black woman born and raised in The Port. I'd like to speak on behalf of Janet Moses and the Moses family in support of Policy Order #7.

Thank you to Councilors Zondervan and Sobrinho-Wheeler for their courageous stance that the city budget is a moral document that reflects what we as a city truly value. We have an opportunity to re-imagine, to re-think and to re-create a department of public safety for the City of Cambridge. Here are six specific suggestions:

  1. Reduce the police force to reflect the national average of hires for cities with at least 100,000 residents. The national average is 16.8 officers and 19.4 department personnel for every 10,000 people. Cambridge has 24.9 officers and 29 personnel for every 10,000 people. While reducing the police force we must preserve jobs for all minority officers with ties to the community and give them more leadership roles on the force.

  2. Require that all new hires live in Cambridge and all previous hires who want to relocate do the same. Substantial citations for abuse of police power would result in a loss of housing subsidy.

  3. Require elections to vett members of the Police Review & Advisory Board and review current members for Anti Black biases. The board was established to reflect the community but current composition does not. Board members have five-year terms and can serve indefinitely. We must ensure that white women with racist "Amy Cooper-like" mindsets stay off of the review board. The same is true for white men. Anti-black biases are not limited to white people so it’s not enough to put a person of color on the board without also being the person for anti-black biases.

  4. Inventory the military hardware that the police department harbors and demand that all equipment be returned to the federal gov’t, including the three armored tanks that the city has.

  5. Disarm the police in multiple ways (study the UK model of billy clubs rather than guns, eliminate the use of chokeholds and other overly aggressive tactics).

  6. Rename the department: Words matter, so in closing, we propose that the department be re-named, The Department of Public Safety—a subtle but significant difference. This will symbolize a break from the historical mission of Police which is rooted in slavery - the mission was to monitor, terrorize and control black bodies who must be reminded to stay in their place or be beaten or killed. This mission is still being accomplished. Police in Cambridge have been reminding black boys and girls in this city for decades that they are black and require a heavy hand. I’ll never forget the looks, the glances, the steady and persistent harassment my brothers and friends had to face throughout their childhood.

Addendum

After their initial statement, signed by more than 300 Cambridge residents, the Moses family added a number of additional components that they felt should be considered in next steps:

  1. As the department restructures, we must preserve the jobs of Black and Brown officers with longstanding ties to the community.

  2. Keep the jobs of school officers but they should not have guns or wear full uniforms if they’re just working with kids.

  3. Of particular concern is the use of police for mental health emergencies. Having an armed police officer show up when someone is undergoing a mental health breakdown is terrifying and dangerous. We really need a different way to handle that kind of situation.

  4. Regarding the Police Review Board - Composition/representation is important but at the same time redefining the function and actual powers of the Board matter. Who does investigations? Can the Board subpoena? etc - are critical questions.

  5. Identify the priorities (with community input) for the money saved by reducing the Police Dept. budget - i.e. schools, mental health & social services, community programs for youth, more community health initiatives, services for homeless folks, etc.

  6. How the police budget is reallocated is very important. We want transparency on who gets to inform and/or make the reallocation decisions.