Good morning Board of Supervisors and all. We have been asked to speak about our collective charge of safety for all in Santa Clara County. But the concept of safety, at its root, is a profoundly personal question. So I would ask that you take a moment to reflect now — when was a time in your life when you felt the most safe? Where were you? Who was with you? Viscerally, what did it feel like?
I would guess that no ones response to that question of safety was found in a jail cell, or without a home, or while being hunted by those with the state given authority to strip you of your liberty or inflict lethal violence. Such realities, which is totally irreconcilable to the feeling of safety, is the status for thousands of residents here today.
If our aspiration is truly safety for all - that vision can not be conditional to the color of someone's skin, their gender identity, their immigration or economic status.
Safety for all can not be a zero sum game — where the ambitions for some comes at the expense, freedoms, and lives of others.
That ideology, which is the history of this country, manifested at the start of this year in full display with the storming of the nations capital by violent white supremecists.
But consequently, the opportunity to create safety for all then has also been revealed. For us to ultimately arrive at this vision, we must confront and dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. That reckoning is a precursor. I mean what was the demand underlying the marches and calls for Black Lives Matter on the streets of San Jose if not an invocation of safety in the most proximate and intimate of ways?
And as we dismantle as we deconstruct, we afford the space to create and construct.
This building is already happening in the community, by those whose lives have been put in jeopardy, or irreparably damaged by this old regime of vengeance, greed, and punishment cloaked as public safety. As the very concept of safety itself has ironically been weaponized against the most vulnerable. Because as Nelson Mandela said, inclusion is not simply having a seat at the table, it is being able to help set the menu.
Families here whose loved ones were killed by law enforcement are organizing to heal and chart out alternatives crisis responses and form new measures of accountability. Those inside our jails and their communities are organizing to create pathways to freedom and boldly assert their right to dignity and humane treatment - or in other terms - safety. Tenants and those who have been out on the street are collectivizing efforts to provide shelter and protections for one another in the face of a predatory capitalist system that places profit over safety for all. And in one of the most fragile and tenuous moments in our nation’s history - during a life-threatened pandemic that has already decimated our county - our people are turning to one another to locate and invent the safety solutions that has been denied them.
We have never lived through a more dynamic, volatile, and opportune time to radically re-imagine our relationships to one another and our institutions, and we look forward working the Board in joining this collective duty to turn the coarse of history here locally while setting a national blueprint to deliver us to the “safety for all” destiny that we all deserve — to be able to Protect Our People.