Questions from Town Hall

Mission and Vision Questions

Is Cecil Solidarity included in Cecil for ALL?

Yes, those that have joined the Cecil Solidarity family are absolutely included in a Cecil for ALL people. We’re seeking to bring racial and social justice to the underserved and underrepresented people in Cecil County, Maryland and beyond.

What are some clear cut / accomplishable goals for CS?

We have five specific “asks” for police reform and five specific “asks” for eduation reform here in Cecil County. These were shared during the Town Hall presenation and can be found on our website under the “Actions” tab.

How does Cecil Solidarity handle leadership? What would you say if someone wanted to join leadership/have someone removed?

We are in the process of drafting our bylaws which will serve as the main governing document for Cecil Solidarity. More information will be provided as soon as this task has been completed.

Are you connected with anyone in local politics? / Is CS going to remain non-partisan?

This group has a separate mission than that of political organizations. CS started around human rights in all or no parties to address issues in Cecil County and beyond. We intend to stay non-partisan and are working on establishing our NGO status.

How is CS funded? Are there fundraising efforts?

T-shirts are a major fundraising initiative. Thanks to everyone for their support! Facemasks are now available as well. (See: Bonfire). We also have yard signs and stickers (pick up required). We support local businesses when developing logo material(s). There is a shop link on our CS website, with link to Bonfire. We also have lots of people who volunteer their services and donations (shout out to BRYNA), to assist CS.

Does CS condone violence or is considered a hate group?

No, we do not condone violence. We aim to drive change peacefully, through public awareness and policy.

Is CS anti-police? Does CS believe all police are racists?

No, Cecil Solidarity is NOT anti-police nor do we think that every police office is racist. We are anti-bad copy and anti-racist ideas and policies. We recognize the difficult job that the policing community undertakes every day, and our goal is to work in solidarity with them to create a trust with the public, a positive policing culture, and a better community overall. We are more than just slogans and phrases; we are about making real changes for every member of the community, including our first responders.

Events Questions

Why aren't there more POC attending the CS rallies?

There are a lot of ways that anyone no matter what race, gender, religion, political affiliation, etc. can support this movement. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and it’s understandable that some may not feel comfortable getting out on the frontlines and protesting with us each week. Our community engagement committee is working on ideas that will help those that aren’t able to join us in the streets and we hope to have these ideas ready to share with the CS community soon.

Of the two thousand people in the group, how many people attend? How can we increase attendance?

Getting ~50 in Cecil County is a big accomplishment. We were up to ~300 at one point. CS anticipates that membership is waiting to hear what our next concrete actions are. We need to shift forward to put our demands into action and put pressure. Events committee will be working hard to improve attendance.

Are we looking to engage local police in any of our rallies, to show that we are not anti-police?

Recommendation is to have group membership determine when they feel comfortable with police presence. We want everyone to feel safe and free to be themselves during rallies. Please remember that the protests are about the systemic problems within the police system.

Community Engagement Questions

How will this group be inclusive and respectful?

We welcome everyone to join us in an effort to truly create a Cecil County that is for ALL people. So now matter your race, gender, age, religion, etc. – we welcome you into the Cecil Solidarity family with open arms.

Do you welcome members even if they are against demanding the resignation of Bob McKnight?

YES, ABSOLUTELY! We appreciate open dialog and conversation. We are for the community and a family. We are Cecil for ALL PEOPLE. Everyone is always welcome. We are not cookie cutter, we are a very diverse team who fights for what we believe in and each other.

When will town halls be held?

Every town hall will be published on our FB page(s). We encourage everyone to attend.

Will CS let people know when local official positions are open and available, to encourage POC to run?

We are putting a list together of all official roles, timing of elections and availability, qualifications needed, etc. For example, The mayor appoints a town administrator, who then appoints a chief of police. Intent is to have a handbook.

Which committees are in most need of volunteers?

We need help on Community Engagement Committee. We want to visit black churches, attend town halls and reach out to local businesses. We currently only have 4 volunteers. We also need volunteers on the Voter Registration Committee. This team also has work that can be done from home by writing letters, making phone calls, etc. (Eunice & Janice are the sponsors of the Community Engagement/Voter Registration Committee. Bridget Chaney-Lennon is the chairperson.) The Education Committee also needs volunteers. We need teachers, parents and counselors to help build around the 5 pillars (Keisha is the sponsor of the Education Committee).

How can, as a county and a people, we better advocate and rejuvenate impoverished communities such as low income and homelessness? (Asking for servitude rather than gentrification response)

So this is a two pronged approach because revitalizing communities is slightly different than serving the homeless community. So firstly a way to revitalize impoverished communities we can advocate for changes like better code enforcement of buildings, and hold landlords more accountable to make their buildings habitable for low-income renters. This has to be done in such a way that it doesn’t result in those renters losing their shelter because of building is condemned though, the incentive has to be for landlords to improve their buildings. another facet that would go a long way and I believe the county is already taking steps to do this is improving our public transit. Many in low-income areas don’t have access to cars and a lot of people that I’ve seen get jobs coming out of a homeless shelter trying to lift themselves up end up taking a 2-hour bus drive to and from work at the Amazon distribution center in North East for something that should be a 15-minute car ride.

As to advocating for people in the homeless population I could go on for hours about that but something that really sticks out is how we are not investing in helping them right now. I think we’ve probably alluded to it before but budgets are moral documents and most of the budgets within towns and Cecil County in the county budget itself do not reflect and investment and really helping those in the homeless population who coincidentally are usually a lot of those that are struggling with addiction as well which is one of the biggest crises facing our county. Something that has shown a lot of success in one of the communities on the eastern shore is the housing first program down in Salisbury Maryland. Their homeless population is roughly the same size as ours and for an investment that would equal something in a neighborhood of 5% of what the entire sheriff’s budget is, we could house everybody in Cecil County who was chronically homeless. And this isn’t just a giveaway either This should appeal to conservatives as well because it is cheaper for the county to put people in a house than it is to leave them on the street. Many studies show that is very costly to continually foot the bill for emergency room visits, policing, incarceration, etc When compared to just giving somebody a small room to rent so they can get their life together. It’s extremely hard to get a job when you don’t have a fixed address, and it’s extremely hard to maintain one when you don’t have one either. This program could really take off and Cecil County as well as a local shelter received a grant to hire a point person for the continuum of care for the homeless population in Cecil County and could quarterback the whole thing as far as hooking people up with mental health and housing if we went after a program like that.

There are definitely many others, but we think programs like better public transit and the housing first program We go a long way towards helping those in need around us.

Education Questions

How will CS tackle ignorance?

We are committed to implementing lasting, meaningful changes in our County and will continue to use our collective voices to call out ignorance and hold those in our community that hold public office or public service positions accountable for the things they say and the things they do.

How can we further, and more truthfully, educate the younger generation, liberating them out of racist, ageist, sexist etc. lifestyles as a county?

Pillar 3 speaks directly to this topic around Diversity training. We need to be liberated through education and are developing different educational channels and do whatever it takes to further the conversation. Have open dialog and do not get frustrated when people don’t understand what CS is doing. Let’s get to the table to start looking at the existing curriculum to start making positive changes. Please review the pillars / anchors of this movement. Students and teachers need to feel safe.

Will there be a plan to rewrite the education systems curriculum and incorporate a more anti-racist education style that is not simple black and white but for people of all races and ethnicities?

We are determined to ensure that ALL students have access to an education that prepares them to compete in an ever-changing technological society. We’ve established our five education “asks” which can be found in the Town Hall presentation and additional details on our website under the “Actions” tab. Additionally, we are in the process of putting together a committee to help us with our efforts.

Policy Reform Questions

What are your thoughts/plans on police reform and defunding? Example: CAHOOT in OR

Currently policing in the county and local governments far outpaces the money being spent on the bigger problems in Cecil like homelessness and the opioid epidemic. Those issues were actually identified by residents as the top two issues facing the county in the last health needs assessment that was was conducted. Unfortunately, it is both expensive and ineffective to rely soley on policing to solve these issues. Currently policing accounts for over 40% of most municipal budgets and the sheriff’s office accounts for 3 times the dollars given to community services in the county. Now, after we pay all that to arrest someone, It costs us $37,000 a year to incarcerate a drug offender in ccdc, and when they come out they are no better off or equipped with the means to get better.

A program like CAHOOTS in Eugene and Beloved in Asheville NC are fantastic models to invest in and would get us more bang for the buck in helping ppl. Not only would it help get people off drugs, it would make life easier for police to no longer have to respond to mental health or addiction calls. Everybody wins if we start investing in care and treatment instead of incarceration.

How do you plan to better train police officers to have nonviolent responses to nonviolent situations?

One of the biggest factors in supporting LEOs engagment in nonviolent behaviors is addressing one of the major underlying causes for aggressive behavior- stress and/or trauma reactivity. The higher the stress level an individual is under, and the longer that an individual is under stress, can be directly related to more aggressive behavior or poor decision making and evaluating skills. Ongoing and consistent stress management training, mental health counseling, and stress evaluations would increase LEOs ability to more adequatley engage in controlled behavior that can consistently de escalates situations. In addition, changing implicit biases and managing behavior after high stress experiences are difficult for all of us so focusing on building in structures to contain and minimize them is important. Example, an officer who chases a suspect or engages in high adrenaline interaction is not the one to take later steps with that individual to arrest or question them, or an officer should not have to go from a traumatic call (e.g., death) immediately to another call.

Do you believe Police Officers are trained with fear tactics that cause violent responses to nonviolent situations? If so, what can you do to prevent these situations and training?

Some of the tactics and practices used by LEOs have been shown to result in an increased risk of an agressive response from those they are interacting with. For example, “the weapons effect” has consistently been supported in research and indicates that the mere presence of a weapon (gun, taser, etc.) can increase aggressive behavior from another person. That, in turn, results in an increased show of force from LEOs. Having weapons not in visible view or using nonarmed individuals with armed officers can lead to a decreased risk of aggressive behavior. LEOs having a better understanding of trauma and stress responses in themselves and in the individuals they interact with would also increase their ability to appropriately engage in de escalation tactics versus using control tactics immediatley that are more likely to escalate a situation.

Do you believe it would be beneficial to Cecil County police departments to require degrees or educational background in criminology and/or psychology? If so, how can we make this happen?

Yes, a four year degree in law enforcement, criminology, sociology, social work, psychology or other related field would increase the wealth of knolwedge and training that our officers would have. GIven that LEOs are first responders who are charged with doing a wealth of duties for the public (including mental health calls, family violence and child abuse response, homelessness and poverty issues, lack of appropriate community resources, community violence, substance abuse, and theft, to name a few) they should require a broad based eduation that touches on the knowledge relevant to all aspects of their policing. There is research to support positive benefits for LEOs who do have a 4 year degree:

What is the timeline for the advisory board with the police?

Initial conversations have occurred (Sherriff Adams); police advisory board is in its infancy. No framework has yet been announced. Timetable: attempting to get a 2 year timeline. We have concrete asks with the State’s Attorney. Civilian Advisory Board Asks: ability to have subpoena power to compel testimony, ability to take in and escalate misconduct complaints, provide mechanism to impose disciplinary measures. We also approached Adams to have a 1-1 town hall.

Do we have any demands in regards to officers losing their certifications after receiving disciplinary action: So they can't get fired and move to another department.

The mechanism for this will come via the advisory board. We want to partner with the ACLU (etc.) to repeal specific policies so this will not occur.

Social Media Questions

How will CS approach Social Media presence? FB page? Opposing views?

We have a Facebook Page, and Instragram account and a Twitter account. The CS Page is for official news. The CS private group is for open discussion (it currently has over 2K members). The views in the group are not necessarily supported by the CS organization. We encourage discussion, open minds and respect. CS takes the high road when negative expressions are visible. We will not engage in social media arguements. Please see the code of conduct for more information.

What is the group doing to collect all social media content being found in adversity to this group and its members? Can any actions be taken against the individuals who are regularly causing conflict and sharing false messages?

We are very clear on our message and activites, so that is where our focus is, not on responding to inflamatory rhetoric.

How do you feel about the CS Facebook group? Is it being used how you envision, and would you like to see anything changed?

We are hopeful that everyone has good intent. We have a code of conduct that everyone should follow.