Civil Rights in Cambridge

Can everyone breathe?

Across the country, young black men have a far higher risk of being shot and killed by police than young white men. The names of police shooting victims echo in our news and our national consciousness: Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Tamir Rice. Philando Castile. Charleena Lyles. (mapping police violence, bbc)

Different cities with similar racial demographics, population size, and crime rates do not also have the same rate of police shootings. The Use of Force Project "found that police departments with policies that place clear restrictions on when and how officers use force had significantly fewer killings than those that did not have these restrictions in place."

Of course long before the bullets fly, people of color may be discriminated against in other ways: increased traffic stops, stop and frisk programs, broken cash bail systems, increased fines and broken windows style policing, and unequal access to housing and education.

These are all local issues.

How does Cambridge measure up?

a black lives matter sign on a fence in Cambridge
Currently in Cambridge

  • More than 1/3 of Cambridge residents are black, asian, native american, multiracial, or hispanic.
  • Mayor Denise Simmons is the 1st openly lesbian black mayor in the United States. (queerty)
  • In 2015, Cambridge Police initially refused to release their use of force policies - unlike Somerville, Boston, and many other cities nationwide. (globe, june 5) They released much of their policy several days later (globe, june 10, police statement, policy)
  • Black Lives Matter Cambridge received the Cambridge LGBTQ+ Commission 2017 Organizational Recognition Award.
  • All charges were dropped against 20-year-old black Dorchester resident after a tense altercation with a plainclothes Cambridge police officer (much on video) near (globe)
graph of cambridge demographics from 1930-2015
A Vision for the Future

What could Cambridge be?

  • Can Cambridge hire more police officers of color, to eliminate the racial gap in its police force? (nytimes)
  • Does Cambridge do enough to involve residents of color on its committees and resident advisory boards?
  • Is Cambridge Police's Use of Force document the best it can be?
  • Are Cambridge Police officers regularly drilled in de-escalation techniques?
  • Do neighborhoods with larger populations of black residents receive the same maintenance and funding?
  • Can Cambridge eliminate racial gaps in education, and ensure every student has a teacher of their race at least once?
  • Are black and hispanic residents disproportionately getting priced out of the city because of rising housing costs?

Now What?


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