Montgomery County is a diverse county by race and ethnicity, socio-economic background, age, gender identity, and more. However, when it comes to who represents us on the policies that impact our most vulnerable residents, our county leadership has not reflected that diversity. The impact is real – and in some cases deadly – for our fellow community members. As forces at the state and federal level attempt to institutionalize racism and discrimination, we must commit to cooperative governance and strong anti-discrimination policies to uplift, protect, and empower everyone who lives in Montgomery County.
To provide justice for all in Montgomery County, we need to:
Nothing about us without us is for us. Policies developed to support specific demographic groups or neighborhoods must be created with those community members at the table. Empowering leaders who are from, work with, and live in their communities is the best way to make sure policies are developed with strong community participation. This means investing in the development of these leaders and providing resources to help them engage the members of their communities. Resilient and engaged leaders deserve seats in both governing bodies and the systems that support them.
Too many people in our county fear interactions with the police – particularly communities of color, immigrant communities, and residents with disabilities or with mental health needs. When community members are unwilling to report crime or ask for help because they worry that the consequences will be devastating or deadly, all of us are less safe. We must shift the culture and practice of policing in our county so that it is based on community relationships and trust.
We must increase the amount of training required for MCPD officers on de-escalation, implicit bias, and working with members of our community who have special needs. We must establish a civilian review board in Montgomery County with real authority to hold police accountable when they do harm to community members. And we must transform our criminal justice system – from our law enforcement officers through our courts and correctional system and beyond – so that it is grounded in the principles of restorative justice. Our goal in dealing with crime in our county must not only be holding people accountable for the harms they do in our community, but also returning them to be better participants in our civic and community life.
Montgomery County must remain a welcoming place for all to live, work, and enjoy. We must fight back against false narratives used to diminish the contributions of immigrants in our community – both those with documents and those without. We must also recognize the role of our country’s military and economic policy in destabilizing the home countries of those who are fleeing violence and extreme economic hardship around the world. While we continue to work toward comprehensive federal immigration reform, we must pass a Trust Act in Montgomery County and work to do the same in the Maryland General Assembly. Our local law enforcement and other public agencies should not be extensions of ICE.
The rich diversity of Montgomery County includes the full spectrum of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation among our family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We must directly empower LGBTQ+ grassroots leaders and work with them to create physical spaces for the community to meet, share resources, and uplift one another. We must work with leaders in the community to ensure that these spaces include LGBTQ+ youth and seniors, transgender persons, and other members of the community who face marginalization for more than one aspect of their identity. We must also continue working with the Maryland General Assembly to ensure that all LGBTQ+ Marylanders have access to competent healthcare.
Hate has no place in Montgomery County. We must ensure all residents – regardless of religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation – are free from harassment and discrimination. We must fund programs to assist marginalized communities, and foster partnerships with non-profit organizations that successfully challenge false narratives about community members and help residents build relationships across differences. We must also strongly enforce state and county laws against discrimination, bullying, and hate crimes.