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Gamaliel Releases Statement: Ferguson Plans Decent First Step; Racial Impact Statement Could Help
Contact: Laura Barrett, 314-443-5915; Gordon Mayer, 312-307-0133; both with Gamaliel

FERGUSON, Mo., Sept. 9, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Gamaliel:

One month ago, tragedy struck when Michael Brown was killed. Today, we note another tragedy: that it has taken Ferguson city officials a full month to make a single helpful response to the long-simmering tensions in their community.

Ferguson's council members have said they will "reform" court procedures and set up a board to "oversee" police. Proposals to reform court procedures and fines are especially encouraging. It's bad enough when governmental officials try to boost their budgets on the backs of the poor. It's even worse when they use police officers, who should be focused on public safety and real crimes, to do so.

As mentioned in the Post-Dispatch, we hope that "community service" assignments are not make-work, but make a real difference in improving the plight of Ferguson's poor. And we hope police review board members are selected after input from the public, not hand-picked by the mayor, aides and public relations consultants.

We remain skeptical. This is the first tangible sign of progress by Ferguson's elected politicians. We support these decisions but stress that they are small and belated. These proposals are just in the "promise" stage. We may be more positive after we see how they are implemented.

Before anyone gets too excited about what's being discussed tonight in Ferguson let's remember that pressure, not complacency, brings real change. So we encourage everyone who's pushing for a better Ferguson to keep on pushing.

We also remember that the recent unrest in Ferguson does not stem entirely from anger over traffic tickets and police behavior. It stems from longstanding oppression and poverty that remain to be addressed. We look forward to seeing more action by Ferguson politicians and other elected and appointed officials and education and business leaders to effectively address these complex factors.

When a corporation wants to build a massive project, it's required to do an environmental impact study. For decades, in states with histories of racial discrimination, officials were required to show how voting laws would impact African-Americans and people of color. Perhaps now, in Ferguson and elsewhere, city officials should be required to explain how their laws and policies impact low-income citizens. This might prevent future riots and disillusionment in towns with high percentages of low-income families.

Gamaliel's mission is to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. Gamaliel's diverse members apply their faith and values to the pursuit of equal opportunity for all, shared abundance, and stronger, more prosperous communities. More information is online at gamaliel.org.