By Ginger DeShaney
The Faith & Blue events over the weekend in Boston inspired new Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox to make sure his officers continue to build strong relationships throughout the city.
“Boston is a tremendous place,” he said at the Faith & Blue marquee event Monday night at the Lawn on D. “We have to build a better police department. And that’s my main goal.
“I want to thank all the clergy, all the faith-based groups that are here today … to support the local police department and the city, as we are about making Boston the best city in the country.”
According to faithandblue.org, Faith & Blue was inaugurated in 2020 by MovementForward, Inc., working with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) at the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The idea was a simple but powerful one — the ties that bind officers and residents must be reinforced if we are to build neighborhoods where everyone feels safe and included,” the website states. “Faith-based organizations are key to building these bonds because they are not only the largest community resource in the nation … but because they are as diverse as our nation.”
Before the speaking program at Monday’s Interfaith Celebration, music and dancing filled the tent at Lawn on D. There was food, kids’ activities, and even a coloring contest (won by Rebecca Martin). Students from Saint John Paul II opened the program with the Youth Prayer for Our City. Local politicians and dignitaries were in attendance as were many faith leaders. Cardinal Sean O’Malley performed a blessing.
Mayor Michelle Wu was in awe of the weekend’s events.
“All those events that took place over the weekend really demonstrate or remind us what has been at the core of Boston leadership nationally through the Boston Police Department: The power of community policing, the power of bringing our community members into the work day to day really originated right here in Boston,” she said.
Wu remembered the day she introduced Commissioner Cox. “He pledged that Boston Police would continue to do everything they can to connect with communities, to know our residents, and to work hand in hand as we work to protect and secure public safety and health.”
So, one of the first things Cox did was bring in a bunch of activities for Faith & Blue, she said, “so we could highlight … just how much of a difference it makes when we come together.”
The Reverend Markel Hutchins, the visionary behind MovementForward, Inc. and the One Congregation One Precinct (OneCOP) initiative, said: “We never progress when we separate, segregate ourselves.”
He noted that the only times this country has been able to progress and push through its difficulties “is when we have the courage to sit together and reason together, because when we do that, we find that no matter where we come from, no matter what our walk in life or background is, there’s more that unites us together than divides us.”
So when Hutchins started to see the divisions in the aftermath of law enforcement-involved tragedies, he knew the country needed to “take a different conversation in a different direction with our movement and our advocacy, one that unites law enforcement and communities together. There’s never been a movement in the history of the United States of America that did not have its foundation in the faith community.
“If we’re going to march across the bridge of violence and upheaval and dissent and intention in our communities, it will be because every synagogue, every mosque, every church, every temple, every parish comes together and takes our rightful place at the center of social change,” Hutchins said.
Faith & Blue was launched to facilitate safer, stronger, more just and unified communities by directly enabling local partnerships among law enforcement professionals, residents, businesses, and community groups through the connections of local faith-based organizations, the website states.
“Three years ago, we decided that we would not continue to curse the darkness, but we would light candles,” Hutchins said. “We chose to end national Faith & Blue Weekend in the city of Boston because in so many ways this city and your faith communities, working hand in hand with law enforcement, has been lighting candles for a long time. Together, there’s no problem we can’t solve, there’s no difficult situation we can’t handle when we come together and work together.”