ALBANY – Schenectady-based All of Us joined formerly incarcerated people and representatives from the Center for Law and Justice and the Poor People’s Campaign to discuss alternatives to policing Saturday night at Townsend Park.
“Defund the police and invest in communities,” All of Us cofounder Jamaica Miles said, in an audio recording of the event.
The event also talked about “the need for justice and freedom for everyone that prioritizes investing in communities, and not the over-policing that we see,” said Miles, who was recently elected to the Schenectady School Board.
The Capital Region event drew about 50 people, and Miles said it offered free food, water and wristbands that said “Black August, we keep us safe.”
Black August began in the 1970s to mark the assassination of imprisoned Black Panther and author George Jackson during a prison rebellion in California.
Black August is said to be a time of collective grief, clarity, rage, and rebellion, according to The Center for Constitutional Rights.
The Albany event also had music because, according to Miles, “we were celebrating life as well as calling for justice.”
Miles was heard on audio telling demonstrators that her home city of Schenectady was “as flawed as Albany, Troy, Saratoga (Springs), and all the Capital District, with all of its over-policing and underfunding of community programs.”
Miles told attendees she had been in a car accident in Schenectady Friday, and, although she wasn’t at fault, she said she was upset “they needed six officers to give one man a sobriety test.”
The driver of the other vehicle was a Black man, Miles said, adding that she was in need of an on-scene social worker, to calm her fears of over-policing.
“They were not there for my safety or protection,” she told the assembled crowd. “They were there to put another Black man behind bars, and that’s not what I call for as the victim of that crime.”