The beauty of the American Dream is that we are offered the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But what good is the opportunity if you’re unable to enjoy the fruits of them with safety, security, and general peace of mind?

Yesterday, I and several other Black men and women, each leaders and influencers of change in our own right, representing organizations dedicated to the uplift of our community, including Just Brothers, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Atlanta Business League, Atlanta Black Chamber and Atlanta Black Clergy, stood behind and beside Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens in support of the new training facility that will be built to support the city’s police and fire fighters.

There has been a lot of tumult over this new development within our city, and it’s not without merit. Thanks to social media and community advocates, the world has been able to see the truth about police brutality when it rears its head. We’ve learned a great deal about the overpolicing of Black neighborhoods which naturally result in more arrests and unnecessary deaths at the hands of cops. However, with our prophet voice, we have to make sure that we make a call for change for those outside the community and those within the community. What we need is police reform, not police abolition. Building this training facility will help us go in that direction.

Atlanta is the moral capitol of the nation, and is the perfect place to demonstrate what positive policing and community partnership look like. We have to be practical as well as principled in our response to police violence against citizens. Our communities still need police because our communities still need safety. It is our responsibility to help keep our neighborhoods free from violent crime through mentorship, advocating for common sense gun laws, and pushing for economic freedom. While we do our part, we need to rely on those who have sworn an oath to protect and to serve—and keep them accountable to do it the right way. It is impossible to enjoy the fruits of our labor if we’re dead or incapacitated due to gun violence, theft and robbery, or other violent crimes.

This training facility will, with the help of our elected officials, who we believe to have our best interest at heart, and with the aid of the community, usher in a new era of positive policing where officers are accountable to and responsible for all of the people they serve—including all Black people, regardless of their socioeconomic status or perceived value to the masses. We are all God’s children and deserving of love, protection, security, and the opportunity to improve our lives.

I’d also like to thank the speakers who lent their voices in support of Mayor Dickens and this initiative, of which I am proud to have been included.

I understand how this is difficult for some, but it is a positive step in the right direction. I welcome those who care about our neighborhoods and the future of Atlanta, and Black America at large, to join the conversation and help push for progress. We can’t do it alone, and we can’t sit on the sidelines idly wait for someone to do something.

Something must be done, and this is one of those steps in the right direction.

Love and light.

John Hope Bryant

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