Below is an email we recently sent to the Minnesota Business Partnership, the business community here in Minnesota, about our efforts in responding to the death of George Floyd while in police custody last May.
I thought it would be of interest to you.
Dear Minnesota Business Partnership Members:
The death of George Floyd this past May 25th upsettingly surfaced for our community three very serious issues: 1) an assertion that systemic racism prevents Minnesota from doing justice to its African American neighbors after years of being disadvantaged and worse, by slavery, segregation and lack of equality; 2) a demand that policing and law enforcement be reformed to reduce unfeeling, unnecessary and sometimes deadly, discriminatory treatment of African Americans; and 3) a substantial gap in wealth and income experienced by many African American families compared to most other Minnesotans.
The Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) has responded immediately and directly to each need for remedial change by drawing on its Principles for Business and for government to guide implementation of three initiatives.
First, to improve law enforcement, we have held two workshops on community policing under our Principles for Government using Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing of 1829 and recent focus group data regarding the character traits communities want to see in police officers in order to trust them. The data was collected by our associate Matt Bostrom, former Sheriff of Ramsey County, for his Oxford University dissertation.
Sir Robert Peel’s principles, created for the first modern police force, the London Metropolitan Police, were inspired by the moral standard that “public office is a public trust.” Peel’s principles demand that the police be the community and the community the police in the effort to provide public safety and prevent crime. Such a strategy for the prevention of crime requires trust of the police by the community and, reciprocally, trust of community by the police.
Earning the community’s trust of the police can be enhanced by hiring as police officers only individuals who have the character traits admired by the community. Matt Bostrom’s data permits hiring for character and then training for competence.
As a result of the last workshop, St. Paul City Council members Jane Prince and Rebecca Noecker have decided to press for a City Council resolution setting forth a modernized version of Sir Robert’s principles as the City’s vision of community policing and law enforcement – a first in the nation if it happens.
Prior to the tragic death of George Floyd, Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety, John Harrington, had retained Matt Bostrom to conduct focus groups among Minnesotans and then advise the Department of Public Safety on its hiring and training practices. The department is working to design a “Minnesota Model” of modern policing using the best practice of “hiring for character, training for competence.” The CRT is fully supporting the Commissioner in this pioneering improvement to law enforcement.
Secondly, on closing the wealth gap between African Americans and other Minnesotans, we are moving forward with a leadership group in St. Paul – Dr. Delores Henderson, Bishop Roz Caroll, Anita Spencer and Eric Clark – to bring a smartphone App to young people and families in the community to enable them to set up personal investment accounts in equity portfolios. The portfolios earn on average 6% a year so that compounding returns can make a difference in the acquisition of wealth and thus reward personal habits of saving and planning for the long-term.
The App has been developed by Newday Impact Investing in San Francisco. Several of the Newday equity portfolios available on the App use CRT metrics to rank companies according to alignment with a variety of moral standards – Protestant social teachings, Catholic Social Teachings, Jewish Halakhic norms and Qur’anic guidance. Company rankings are calculated by Magni Global Assets, LLC, a local asset management company.
The CRT introduced Newday to the St. Paul community leaders. We are also introducing Newday to community leaders in Minneapolis. Our initiative is being brought to the attention of Bernice King, daughter of the late Martin Luther King and Daymond John, one of the entrepreneurs featured on Shark Tank.
Thirdly, with respect to viewing American society through the lens of “systemic racism,” the CRT has recommended an alternate approach of “translation” or using “interpreters” to facilitate the building of community and not the alienation of some from others over different life experiences and divergent perspectives. In its international work over the past 35 years, the CRT has experienced the effectiveness of translation skills to bring strangers together, promoting collegiality and even very close collaboration, as better understanding of the other builds acceptance and trust.
The wise use of translation skills creates important social capital by reducing suspicions and anxieties.
Given this experience, we held an in-person round table on how Minnesotans should talk with one another about racism, asking if “racism” is even the right word to use, what words best frame our realities and what interactions most permanently further the common good?
The response of participants was enthusiastic. We are now scheduling future round tables in collaboration with Growth & Justice.
We are optimistic that each of these initiatives will produce constructive results. I look forward to reporting to you from time to time on our progress. I invite your support of our efforts.
Stephen B. Young
Global Executive Director
Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism