Editor’s note: The following was presented during the public comments portion of the June 3 Rockford City Council meeting.
According to The Rock River Times, “in a report released Thursday, Feb. 21, Forbes ranked Rockford the third-most miserable city in America, behind only Detroit and Flint, Mich. The magazine ranked Rockford the ninth most miserable city in America in 2012 and 14th most miserable in 2010. Rockford was not included among the magazine’s 20 most miserable cities in 2011.”
A lot of factors attracted this attention, such as Rockford Public Schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress, Rockford’s crime, unemployment, foreclosure rates, high property taxes, and how well the pro sports teams charge over the past three seasons.
Also, let us not forget that three African-American men were shot and killed by police officers in 2012. Each of their cases was justified. The NAACP has stated that there was no such killing done to the white citizens in the City of Rockford in a May 4, 2013, article (www.examiner.com/article/chief-of-police-epperson). These events reinforce that the climate of Rockford is in need of better race relations. It’s time to examine possible gaps that exist:
Is there a racial gap or an opportunity gap?
Is there a racial gap or funding gap?
Is there a racial gap or economic gap?
Is there a racial gap or income gap?
Addressing these challenges with positive race-relation concepts could improve the city. We, the Justice For Our Children Rockford, are established, independent citizens with the primary purpose of promoting open dialogue on race-related issues. The previous factors can be critically looked at by examining race relations to help overcome the prejudice that continues to surface.
We feel the U.S. Justice Department must investigate why these police-involved shootings and killings occurred here in Rockford. We are here formally to ask the Rockford City Council to request the U.S. Department of Justice to come quickly and urgently to our city to conduct a top-to-bottom complete investigation of police misconduct and excessive force.
There is much work to do! Each of us has a role to have positive race relations. We urge you to listen to your constituents, and think critically as it relates to race relations to include equality and opportunities for everyone.
Brandi DeShawn Brown
From the June 26-July 2, 2013, issue