Rachel Stovall

An open letter to Gov. Jared Polis:

I know that my city Colorado Springs has produced many headlines locally and nationally regarding the shooting of De’Von Bailey. The shooting, the videos, the responses have revealed the racial divide within a city struggling to make sense of its connection to race, class, criminality, law enforcement, stereotypes and how those things sometimes collide.

People in K-Land are shocked and scared that, like De’Von Bailey, they are next to be shot. Rank-and-file police officers are afraid, shocked and scared that, like fallen officer Micah Flick, they are next to be shot. Due to our fears — in the Pikes Peak region — we lack trust.

Some of our citizens of all races view all law enforcement with skepticism. Some of our law enforcement officers, officials and other politicos have forgotten how to have a conversation with regular people without “pulling rank”. Everyone seems to be jockeying for camera time or pressing to push their agenda, opinion or political view forward.

Does anyone want to fix the root problems surrounding the shooting?

So, sir, you finally weighed in about the shooting and its aftermath. Via Twitter. Here is what you said:

“Our nation is grappling with difficult challenges concerning race and how we treat one another. It is more important now at this moment in time that our law enforcement agencies go above and beyond to maintain public trust and confidence. Fairness and objectivity are key to ensuring the public trusts the integrity of any investigation. Given how the events have unfolded surrounding the death of De’Von Bailey — the public details and video that have been shared and the questions that have been raised by the general public — I hope that El Paso County takes steps above those legally required to additionally maximize the public trust in the investigation. I personally believe Colorado Springs residents would be best served by an independent review.”

My response to those words is ………Where’s the beef?

Yes, I used the words of Ronald Reagan. They fit this problem.

Gov. Polis, Colorado Springs is grappling with a police force that is underfunded, sometimes lacking training and are being treated through mainstream media to a steady diet of negative stereotypes about black men. Our citizens are mistrustful, resentful and being treated to a steady diet of negative stereotypes about beat cops.

You haven’t addressed any of that.

Do you want to fix the root cause of the problems surrounding the shooting? Last year, we had a small scandal regarding response times being “altered” in reports. As this city grows, this problem can only get worse if we don’t change.

Colorado Springs has too few cops. And they are stretched too thin. Tired.

Officer-involved shootings have happened about once a month to all races. That is too much. We need help.

Gov. Polis, if the problem is race, why aren’t you asking for more cultural competency training for all officers? Where is your call to hire more minority police officers?

If this problem is racial as you say, where’s your demand for new adult education programs statewide to destroy stereotypes against minorities? Or to destroy stereotypes against cops, especially those of color?

Sir ... Where’s the beef?

Gov. Polis, it is time for you and/or your attorney general to come down here and walk that neighborhood to hear directly from its residents. I think that it is shameful black organizers had to go to Denver and be treated to some of your officials not even showing up for the meeting. Do better.

All voters (but especially black voters) are tired of politicians who only show up for photo ops. Or tweets. If you are serious about solving these problems, action is required. We are going to need some actual policy solutions. Implemented, not proposed.

So, I am going to ask for the final time ………Where’s the beef?

Coloradans do not like nothing burgers. Produce solutions or the new question could be … where can I sign that recall petition?

Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.

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