Local religious leaders have been an advancing an agenda for the past 14 months that aims to minimize the chances that Buffalo will travel down the path that sparked tragedy in Ferguson and other communities.
The Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York issued a progress report during a news conference on President’s Day. Pastor George Nicholas of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church on Masten Avenue told reporters some headway has been made in efforts to promote social justice and combat racism.
The local coalition was formed in late 2014 following incidents in other regions when African-Americans were killed by police.
“These were outcomes of a broken system. An unjust system. A racist system,” Nicholas said.
Promoting diversity training in the Buffalo Police Department has been one of the coalition’s objectives. Mayor Byron W. Brown, who attended Monday’s news conference at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on East Delevan, said city officials worked closely with the group. The city has developed a police recruitment scholarship program.
“Diverse police recruitment is an issue all over the country,” Brown said. “Working with the Concerned
Clergy Coalition, I believe that my administration has come up with an initiative for police recruitment that is a first of a kind in the nation.”
The coalition's eight-point plan endorses a federal initiative to place body cameras on all police officers.
Coalition members have also been vocal in efforts to promote new job opportunities and training initiatives. Nicholas mentioned the state’s plan to create a job training center at the Northland Avenue Corridor.
“Our advocacy helped make that thing happen,” the pastor told reporters.
Nicholas added that poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanics in the Buffalo-Niagara region are four times higher than those of white residents.
Thomas O'Neil-White contributed to this report.