Clergy of Central New York sign open letter advocating for police reform

Forty-nine clergy of the Diocese of Central New York, including Bishop Duncan-Probe, have co-signed an open letter to the mayors and police chiefs of Auburn, Binghamton, Cortland, Elmira, Ithaca, Syracuse, Utica, and Watertown. The letter condemns police violence against communities of color and urges an ongoing commitment to collaborative police reform. 

February 10, 2021

We write to you as clergy and faith leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. With over 11,000 members, the Diocese includes people of diverse backgrounds, political affiliations and opinions. We find our unity in our common obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors. Love for one another is the foundation of our faith: all Episcopalians have vowed, at our baptism, to respect the dignity of every human being and to strive for justice and peace among all people.

Just twelve days ago in the city of Rochester, a nine-year-old girl was brutalized and traumatized by police. This incident is part of a sinful pattern of police violence, particularly against communities of color, that plagues our Upstate New York communities and our nation. People of color witness these events and fear for their safety and for the safety of vulnerable loved ones. Children see this racist violence and fear for their lives and for their futures. As faith leaders and as heartbroken citizens, we say, “No more.” United, we are dedicated to the work of building safe communities where love, not fear, prevails.

Therefore, with a renewed sense of purpose, we urge your full commitment to the ongoing process of collaborative and transparent police reform in each jurisdiction, as called for by our Governor. As faith leaders, we commit—across our own differences of opinion and political affiliation—to support you in the essential work of:

  • providing officers with adequate and appropriate training in crisis response and nonviolent intervention;
  • holding officers and their leaders accountable for violent and racist actions;
  • strengthening police and community relationships;
  • de-escalating racial and social tensions in our communities with dedicated focus on the work of anti-racism.

We recognize the dedicated police officers and public servants who serve with honor and integrity and who find this situation as distressing as we do. We stand ready to work with you in establishing public safety for all our neighbors, supporting our law enforcement officials, expanding access to mental health services, strengthening our schools, reducing gun violence, and alleviating poverty so that our communities may be healed by care, not cowed by violence.

Our children are watching and their future, as well as the future of our nation, depends upon what we do next. Thank you for your commitment to justice and safety for all our neighbors.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, XI Bishop of Central New York
The Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. Adams, III, X Bishop of Central New York
The Rev. Shelly Banner
The Rev. Margaret K.Bates
The Rev. J. Brad Benson
The Rev. Richard A. Bower
The Rev. Lisa J. Busby
The Rev. Julie Calhoun-Bryant
The Very Rev. Catherine Carpenter
The Very Rev. Megan Castellan
The Rev. Brooks A. Cato
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca B. Coerper
The Very Rev. Christine J. Day
The Rev. Taylor D. Daynes
The Rev. Geoffrey D. Doolittle
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Drebert
The Rev. Dcn. Kay M. Drebert
The Rev. Kathryn O. Eden
The Rev. Elizabeth Ewing
The Rev. Paul Frolick
The Rev. Charles L. Grover
The Rev. G. Cole Gruberth
The Rev. David Hanselman
The Very Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard
The Very Rev. Ninon N. Hutchinson
The Rev. C. James Jones
The Rev. Dcn. Patricia M. Kinney
The Rev. Jeffrey D. Knox
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Upson Lane
The Rev. Linda M. Logan
The Rev. Glenn Mahaffey
The Rev. Philip S. Major
The Rev. Thomas Edmund Clare Margrave
The Rev. Dr. Steven Moore
The Rev. Perry K. Mouncey
The Rev. Dr. Leon C. Mozeliak, Jr.
The Rev. Molly Payne-Hardin
The Rev. Dcn. Dorothy Pierce
The Rev. Ana Rivera-Georgescu
The Rev. Kathlyn Schofield
The Rev. Canon Carrie Schofield-Broadbent
The Rev. Jenny M. Scott-Jones
The Very Rev. Arthur Nick Smith
The Very Rev. Dr. Renee Tembeckjian
The Rev. Steve White
The Rev. Jon M. White
The Rev. Anne Brett. Wichelns
The Rev. Peter A. Williams
The Rev. Christine V. Williams-Belt

Comments
  • Debra Todd
    Reply

    Thanks, to all who signed and thus take ownership in a statement that is clear, constructive and caring. This parishioner at Grace, Elmira, appreciates a public statement from the Diocese that acknowledges significant problems AND recommends paths to developing solutions. Also, sincere appreciation for publicly recognizing the honorable efforts made everyday by tens-of-thousands of officers who serve with integrity. When pandemic restrictions can be sufficiently lightened to allow it, I hope our neighborhood Episcopal houses open to opportunities to cultivate neighborhood-policing programs. Each of us who cares is a public servant–uniformed or not. From each of us actions will be the true measure of our words.

    Most Respectfully,
    Deb Todd

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Rev. Absalom Jones