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Why DC Must Prioritize Building Trust in our Communities

By, Rev. Dr. Sylvia Bullock


In my previous blog post, we embarked on a journey to explore the challenges faced by returning citizens as they reintegrate into society and the vital role our community plays in this process. Today, we continue that journey, delving deeper into ways we can collectively provide support, encouragement, and opportunities to those who are striving to rebuild their lives after incarceration.

Kenithin Alston  DC Justice Lab Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial  Library Flikshop
Community Activist Kenithin Alston poses with her poster at the MLK Jr. Memorial Library.

July 2023, I visited the DC Justice Lab (DCJL). The Director of Policy, Naike’ Savain shared the operations of the DCJL offices and mentioned she was currently in advocacy training with activists, nonprofit groups and grass-roots organizations preparing to showcase their work at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on July 29th. These community leaders collaborated on possible solutions to

public safety challenges in the

community.


In recent years, instances of individuals losing their lives at the hands of the police have sparked outrage, protests, and calls for accountability. In these trying times, it is crucial that we prioritize transparency, empathy, and healing for all parties involved. One significant step towards achieving this is ensuring that the families of victims are allowed to view the full footage of such incidents. This practice not only promotes healing but also fosters trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.


Community Activist Kenithin Alston shared, “Why Not Full Footage For Families?”

Flikshop DC Justice Lab Sylvia Bullock Kenithin Alston
Kenithin Alston poses with Flikshop Relationship Manager, Rev. Dr. Sylvia Bullock
  • The Problem: DC government limits the information it shares with families when someone is killed by the police. Ms. Alston noted it prevents families from understanding what really happened, and how to heal and trust police in the community.

  • The Impact: Black people are killed at a disproportionate rate, “almost three times more likely” to be killed by police than a white person. Between 2018-2023 police have killed 21 Black persons. The Washington Post reported, “DC Metropolitan Police Department” has a collective budget of over $600 million dollars per year and its over policing of Black communities has resulted in one of the highest racial disparities in police killings in the country.


  • The Solution: Currently DC’s Body Camera Footage Legislation requires the public release of the footage involving deadly force by MPD. In addition to the release of the footage; DC should also release all footage from all officers, before, during, and after the incident. The family should also receive, death certificate and the option of an independent autopsy.

Since her son, Marquees, was shot and killed by police five years ago, Ms. Alston was very passionate about the opportunity to help create change in the community. She noted even though the District of Columbia passed a law that requires police to release body-camera footage within five days of an incident she still feels she is partially in the dark about what happened with her son because parts of the footage were not made available.

Flikshop Customer Postcard Kenithin Alston Sylvia Bullock DC
Ms. Alston shows Rev. Dr. Bullock her Flikshop app and postcards she has sent to loved ones.

We talked extensively, and Ms. Alston was

very excited to share with me her usage of the Flikshop app. Of course, I was excited to talk with her about the new Flikshop products.


In conclusion, allowing families to view the full footage of incidents where someone is killed by the police is a step towards building trust within our communities. It is a demonstration of a commitment to transparency and accountability, ultimately helping to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the people they serve. By taking this important step, we can work together to prevent future tragedies and build a safer, more just society for all.



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