We've allowed a vocal minority to monopolize the conversation: Rev. Markel Hutchins
Civil rights leader Rev. Markel Hutchins discusses how to restore public safety and trust in policing on Sunday Night In America.
A reverend who previously led protests against the police organized a massive pro-law enforcement
, multi-city rallies over the weekend and spoke to Fox News Digital about why the demonization of police nationwide must end in order to secure better outcomes for everyone, regardless of race."
Law enforcement officers have been, rightly or wrongly, demonized and demoralized and really disconnected from their communities over the last three or four years in a way that has had a detrimental effect on crime and violence, on law enforcement as a profession and by extension, on communities," Reverend Markel Hutchins, the organizer of National Faith & Blue Weekend, told Fox News Digital this week.
Over the weekend, Hutchins flew to several cities across the country engaging with law enforcement officials in coordination with thousands of events nationwide for Faith & Blue Weekend, highlighting the need for more police officers, stronger communication between police and communities, and an end to the stigmatization of law enforcement.
As cities across the country grapple with crippling police shortages in the wake of the defund movement — including Washington, D.C., where crime is surging and the police force is short 400 officers
— Hutchins told Fox News Digital the people he spoke with over the weekend resoundingly opposed police defunding.
"The truth is that more than 70% of African-Americans and Hispanics and more than 80% of white Americans, according to recent polling, want the same or more law enforcement," Hutchins said. "That is a narrative that has not been heard enough that people actually what police everyone wants to be policed with fairness and equity and people want to be treated fairly by law enforcement. That is crystal clear."
"Most people understand that most police officers go to work and do a good job every single day. So this underlying message that we've heard too much in the media that somehow the American people are not supportive of law enforcement just isn't true
. And that was demonstrated in the thousands of activities that happened over the course of Faith & Blue weekend."
In past years, Hutchins has been a vocal critic of police and he recently penned an article
for FoxNews.com with the headline, "I used to lead protests against the police -- now, I'm working with them to keep communities safe.""
There was a time when my civil rights leadership was limited to protests and marches," Hutchins told Fox News Digital. "I have expanded that leadership, as time has grown I've matured, my thought process, my thinking and my strategy has evolved... I still very much believe in protesting and marching but right now our best march is not on law enforcement, it's with law enforcement as a matter of strategy.
"Hutchins outlined his belief that both sides of the police brutality debate have acted too extremely and that the best path forward is to find common ground.
"We've seen over the last several years, marches and protests that often are more of an expression of anger and animosity, understandable anger and animosity, but they've not been curative," Hutchins said. "All the marching, all the protesting and all the demonizing that we've seen back and forth from Black Lives Matter and from Blue Lives Matter, we've not seen any improvement in terms of less officer involved tragedies or less attacks on our law enforcement professionals or less crime."
"So we have to choose a more excellent way. And the more excellent way, in my estimation, is to turn to each other and not turn on each other
. And that's what we're doing with national Faith & Blue weekend and that's what we'll do with the continued expansion of our program."
Hutchins, via his group MovementForward, Inc, organized an inaugural police training conference earlier this year that was known as "Professionalizing Law Enforcement Community Engagement Training." He told Fox News Digital that program will continue next year.
"We're expanding our programing, we're looking at additional tools and resources to be able to provide to law enforcement agencies and to communities to build these bridges," Hutchins explained. "There's no more important issue in America today, in my estimation, that than healing the wounds or bridging the divides between police and communities."
"Because ultimately, when police officers are better trained, they're better equipped, they understand their communities better, that's the way in which we're going to see a decrease in attacks on our officers. We're going to see a decrease in officers committing suicide. That's the only way we're going to see a decrease in violent crime and an increase in mutual respect between officers and communities."