Capital Region leaders react to Pew study of how Black Americans view their communities
Black residents of the Capital Region share the concerns of Black Americans nationwide when it comes to violence and crime, as measured in a new survey.
This month the Pew Research Center released results of an October survey including findings about the most important community issues for Black Americans.
According to Pew, 17% of Black Americans say violence and crime is the most important issue facing the community they live in. Economic issues came in second at 11% and housing came in at 7%.
Pew found that among Black adults who named the most important issue their community was facing, 48% said local community leaders were most responsible for addressing that issue.
Albany Center For Law and Justice Executive Director Alice Green is a local leader who says she would like to have seen the Pew survey take a deeper dive into some of the issues it touched on, and noted it confirms "a lot of what we already knew."
“The survey reveals the major concerns of Blacks, which is the usual violence, poverty, housing, public health and public safety," Green said. "But what is not suggested or clear is that these concerns are very much tied to systemic racism, which is seen as a major national concern, and one that needs to be addressed, you know, not only by local leaders, but certainly national ones as well. So I'm not sure what the survey findings really tell us.”
During the spring of 2019, the Center for Law and Justice in Albany conducted a survey of some 250 Albany residents regarding public safety, law enforcement and community-police relations, ultimately finding that "people who were African-American or Latino felt that they were certainly not trusting of the Albany Police Department and the District Attorney's Office." Law enforcement officials and city leaders gave the report a lukewarm reception.
Shawn Young co-founded the Schenectady-based activist group All of Us, a member of the Black Freedom Project. Over the winter, it surveyed 305 Black city residents age 16 and up on their thoughts of what makes a "safe healthy and thriving" community.
"No matter where, like, folks fell on the idea of safety as concerns police in the community, whether they were for more police, or they want to know police at all, or they were somewhere in the middle of that, almost every single person, when we looked at the data, had saw other investments as being more important than the police, meaning, you know, long term housing and jobs and, and quality health care and quality public school," said Young. "And all these others, there are so many other investments that people identified as being more important to community safety, more important to community connection."
Green thinks Albany has been slow to address community concerns.
“We don't see any great changes, even though we've gone through the whole process of the collaborative, which was designed to reform and transform the police system, for instance," green said. "Those things never really got addressed and we don't see any indication that there is continued interest on the part of government officials for doing that.”
75% of respondents to the Schenectady survey said they would prefer a community-based violence prevention program that would "move away" from police-sponsored programs such as "Cure Violence." All of Us co-founder and Schenectady School Board member Jamaica Miles says survey data is being widely shared.
“One of the important pieces when we started this survey was to make sure not just to collect the data, but then to share that information back out with the very community that participated, as well as the larger community and additional stakeholders," Miles said. "So it has been shared with Schenectady police department it was shared with the Schenectady city council, Seat Center, SICM, City Mission, the library. Going back to all of those places, and continuing to engage the community and dig deeper. What is it that those most impacted need to feel safe in their communities?”
Miles and Young presented the survey findings, shown in the link below, at the city council’s April 18 meeting.
BFP Preliminary Analyses - Schenectady on Scribd