• P.E.A.C.E. Program: “Earning a diploma, decades after dropping out”

    The United Christian Leadership Ministry partners with Monroe-Orleans BOCES2, a local church, and participants to reduce crime, violence, and recidivism.  The program seeks to achieve this through life-enhancement alternatives for individuals and their families through education, employment and community involvement.  David Riley, staff writer at the Democrat & Chronicle was on-site this week to cover the story behind this program.  To read more follow the link:  PEACE Initiative.

  • Govenor’s Executive Order – “Supported but Limited” Rev. Lewis Stewart, UCLM President

    lws Press Conf 7 15 2015

    Recently, Governor Cuomo through an Executive Order has granted authority to the N.Y. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate incidents of the killings by the police of unarmed civilians.

    The United Christian Leadership Ministry’s stance is that the scope of the Executive Order is too limited. The Executive Order should also include independent investigations into allegations of incidents of police use of excessive force as well as racial profiling.

    Presently, in Rochester City Courts two separate cases are being heard by two city court judges involving young black males who were arrested on trumped up charges.

    They were threatened, harassed and physically pushed around by the same police officer. This officer has wasted tax payers money. This same police officer continues to racially profile, threaten and sometimes assault young black men.

    He is not called to account for his racist behavior unbefitting an officer of the law. His abhorrent practices are persistent, consistent and pervasive. He and others of his ilk have not been corrected by the police department.

    The District Attorney has not indicted him nor others because of the very nature of their common interest in collaborating with these officers to build their cases. Although these cases, proceeding from these police officers are based on misrepresentation of the facts, lies and distortions.

    The District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York criticized the Governor’s Executive Order using such statements as “gravely flawed” and that “…district attorneys have far more experience and resources in dealing with these cases than either the governor or the attorney general.”

    If that is the case, then why is it, that in the City of Rochester, no police officer has ever been indicted for the murders of unarmed civilians? Why is that most police officers in New York state are never indicted by the grand jury system? Why has no police officer who racially profiles has ever been fired for engaging in racial profiling?

    Instead they are rewarded for official lawlessness by keeping their jobs, which sends a signal that their behavior is approved of. It is lawlessness but pressed and uniformed lawlessness; wearing a badge but lawless; armed with a weapon but lawless.

    The judicial system does not work for people of color for it is seriously flawed and based on the false assumption that all black males are criminals. There certainly is a “Crisis of Confidence in the criminal justice system.”

    White criminals are treated in a more humane manner than alleged black criminals. District attorneys suggest shorter sentences for whites than blacks. Judges tend to impose harsher sentences on blacks and are more lenient with whites.

    So whoever said justice is blind in America was certainly not blind to the issue of race in America, people of color just do not count. For in America justice is not blind but harsh and brutal for a person of color.

    Mind you, we are not unaware of the violence and murders committed in the city, and those who murder should be arrested, tried and convicted, but everyone should be treated with fairness and justice.

    UCLM supports and applauds the Governor’s Executive Order but the scope is too limited. It must include incidences of police brutality to be investigated by the State Attorney General’s office.

    We call upon our N.Y. State Delegation to transform the Governor’s Executive Order into legislation. If we are to rebuild trust and confidence in the judicial system then this process must readily take place and we must observe with open eyes the cancer incubating institutional racism and excise it from supposedly free and democratic society.

    Reverend Lewis W. Stewart
    July 15, 2015

  • Body Cameras – Ensuring Fair and Balanced Policies

    “If you don’t have the right policies, you might as well not have the body cameras,” said the Rev. Lewis Stewart, a leader of both United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York and the Coalition for Police Reform.

    Unlike some communities that allow officers to decide when their cameras record, Stewart’s groups want the devices to record most interactions with the public, with some exceptions for sensitive situations — for example, talking to a crime victim who does not want to be recorded.

    Stewart said he hopes to meet this month with Mayor Lovely Warren to discuss his concerns.

    As city shops for body cameras, activists seek say

    David Riley, Staff writer 5:24 a.m. EDT July 5, 2015

    A FirstVu HD body camera — one type of device the city could consider for Rochester police.(Photo: digitalally.com)


    As city officials press forward with plans to equip Rochester police officers with body cameras, activists are continuing to push for a direct voice in how the devices are used.

    The city has asked vendors of body cameras and computer systems to store and manage video files to submit proposals by the end of the month to bring their services to Rochester. The city budget that went into effect July 1 includes $2 million for the recording devices, and the city also is seeking state and federal funding to help pay for them.

    Officials hope to conduct field testing on cameras in September and hire a vendor by December.

    City, police and union officials announced a basic agreement late last year to bring body cameras to Rochester, but many details are still in the works or have yet to be made public, including how and when the devices should be switched on and off.

    Activists who began pressing the city to adopt body cameras about a year ago proposed their own set of rules in January. With the city now embracing the recording devices, activists want a seat at the table in discussions on how they will be used.

    “If you don’t have the right policies, you might as well not have the body cameras,” said the Rev. Lewis Stewart, a leader of both United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York and the Coalition for Police Reform.

    Unlike some communities that allow officers to decide when their cameras record, Stewart’s groups want the devices to record most interactions with the public, with some exceptions for sensitive situations — for example, talking to a crime victim who does not want to be recorded.

    Stewart said he hopes to meet this month with Mayor Lovely Warren to discuss his concerns.

    Warren wants to engage the community on the issue, and public input already was an important part of budget conversations about the cameras, said James Smith, a city spokesman.

    Exactly how the city will involve residents and community groups in the near future is not yet clear.

    “We are currently working on the details of the formal process to engage the community in this discussion going forward, and the mayor is always open to talk with community members on body cameras and other important public policy topics,” Smith wrote in an email.

    Stewart said the coalition wants to ensure that policies are fair and balanced and will foster better relations between police and the community.

    City Council recently wrapped up an informal two-month survey of city residents on their views about body cameras, asking everything from how long the data should be stored to who should be allowed to edit or delete video files. Complete results have yet to be released.

    The city’s request for proposals from body camera vendors is largely technical. It says about 480 members of the department will use the devices.

    The document says the city wants cameras that can record continuously for at least six hours at a minimum of 30 frames per second, while functioning in close quarters and in little light.

    Memory cards should not be removable, the document says; video files could instead be uploaded in docking stations.

    Coalition for Police Reform members see body cameras as one of several steps that could help to build trust between city residents and police, including a civilian review board with greater power to investigate claims of police misconduct.





  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program

    City and County of Albany to Develop Innovative, Evidence-based Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program to Reduce Low-Level Arrests, Recidivism, and Racial Disparities

    Albany Project to be Modeled on Successful LEAD Program in Seattle And Santa Fe Albany Third City in the U.S. and First on the East Coast to Sign Agreement To Develop LEAD

    Albany – Tomorrow, city and county officials and community leaders will gather at the Albany Police Department Headquarters to announce that the City and County of Albany will develop an innovative program to reduce low-level arrests, racial disparities and recidivism. The program is known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD. Under LEAD, instead of making an arrest police officers exercise their discretion to divert individuals for certain criminal offenses (including low-level drug charges) to a case manager, who then facilitates access to a comprehensive network of services. Instead of entering the maze of the criminal justice system, the individual receives intensive case management and targeted social services.

    What: Press conference: Albany City and County to develop Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Program, an innovative approach to reduce low-level arrests and recidivism by connecting people to social services.

    Who: – Albany Police Department, Acting Chief Brendan Cox – Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan – Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy – Albany District Attorney David Soares – The Center for Law and Justice, Dr. Alice Green – Drug Policy Alliance, gabriel sayegh

    When: Thursday, June 25, 10:30 AM

    Where: Albany Police Department Headquarters, 165 Henry Johnson Blvd.

    Over the last year, government and community stakeholders in Albany have met regularly to explore the feasibility for developing a LEAD program in Albany. Today, the group — which includes representatives from law enforcement, public defenders, human service agencies, business leaders, community groups and public health — announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in developing the program. Historically, a relatively small number of individuals in Albany with high needs demand a great deal of police time and resources. They cycle in and out of jail or prisons without ever having their underlying issues — such as untreated mental health and substance use problems, housing, employment, medical needs –addressed. LEAD focuses on addressing some of those underlying problems and stopping the cycle of costly and ineffective arrests and incarceration. Under LEAD, police officers will identify people charged with low-level criminal offenses; but before arrest, instead of booking them into jail, the officers link the individual to a waiting case manager. The City and County will also announce that it has been selected to attend a national convening about LEAD being co-hosted by the White House in early July.

  • UCLM, and The Black Church: Call to Action


    Reverend Lewis Stewart, UCLM President

    The Christian faith always gives rise to hope; a hope rooted in the foundation of the promises of God. The African American church historically embodied the hope in the future of God’s promises. The Black Church was born in protest against the forces of tyranny, and oppression which sought to destroy Black humanity.

    In the first quarter of the 21st century, the residual effects of slavery, Jim Crow laws and bigoted attitudes of many white americans have recently morphed into a climate of fear and policies which have infringed upon the rights of black people: Stop and Frisk laws the use of Stand Your Ground laws in the murder of a black youth, Travon Martin; the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the use of Voter Identification laws to suppress minority voting in demographically black majority election districts is both disturbing and offensive.

    The dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King and many other Civil Rights martyrs who have shed their blood in the struggle for human rights have yet to be realized.

    The crises which are manifested in black communities across America must also be confronted. The rampant upsurges in the Black-on-Black violence and crimes, the grave increase in AIDs and HIV, the extensive development in teenager pregnancy, the marked breakdown in family life, a double-digit unemployment rate, the concentration of poverty among urban minority populations a predominance of blacks incarcerated in American’s penal system, as well as a myriad of other social ills ranging from education to health issues calls for a unified black church to step into this morass of black human negation and embrace and proclaim the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. The Church must bring the Good News to bear not only on the starving, thirsting, jobless, imprisoned, sick, poverty stricken and humiliated black community but also seek to turn upside-down from the bottom, the entrenched wealthy purveyors of oppressive political socio-economic, and educational policies, practices and legal renderings which obstructs the aspirations of the poor and the despised.

    The Black Church in particular is called to be prophetic and priestly, evangelical and celebratory.

    With the Black community in crisis, we can no longer adopt a quietistic and insular approach to the agonized suffering of our people. We must be obedient and serve Christ and not a secular culture ensconced in materialistic individualism and theological relativism.

    UCLM seeks to be obedient to the Lord of the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we covenant together to engage in a dynamic spiritual-cultural struggle to save the souls of black people, to retake our communities from the dark and demonic socio-cultural forces of chaos which seek to assert itself against God’s Word.

    We proclaim that Jesus is Lord over every dimension of life in this world. Realizing that Jesus the Christ is Pantocrator; that is Lord of all, we therefore call upon churches in the community to unite around the divine power emanating from three trans-historical events: the Cross, the Resurrection and Pentecost.

    We call upon church leaders to join us in the following:

    • Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifested within us to end church divisiveness and to bring about a coalition of religious leaders to morally and spiritually uplift our community from the devastating social ills which impact our people through liberating faith, activism, partnerships and programs.

    • Seek to transform the moral climate in our community ad participate in the commencement of the eradication of crime, drug addiction, prostitution, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, homicides and all other ills which hinder our people from reaching their full potential.

    • Challenge governmental policies and practices, whether local, state, or federal which create, foster, encourage and impose a bigoted climate, policies and laws, which negate the humanity of minorities. We will watch and observe that no one’s civil and human rights are violated.

    • Monitor and involve ourselves in our children’s education. Interact with youth, parents, educators and school administrators and school board commissioners to ensure that our youth will receive a quality education. We must invest in our children.

    • Encourage the economic development of the Black community. Advocate the implementation of job training programs to fit the technological needs of the 21st century. Develop partnerships with labor unions to ascertain that minorities are trained and hired for jobs.

    • To do all we can to strengthen family life. To promote in cooperation with social agencies, proper and timely intervention and prevention strategies to help in the survival of families. We will focus on the salvation of Black men and women knowing they are the keys to healthy family development.

    • To partner with health professionals and medical entities to develop strategies of health awareness education, prevention and intervention in the community.

    • Implement non-partisan voter registration and education projects to develop political awareness. • Ensure the fair treatment of African-Americans in the criminal, justice and penal system.

    • Establish an academy or institute to train and develop leaders in the community. Such an institute would insure a resource of leadership trained in theology, biblical and African-American histories, politics and community development.

    UCLM will partner with religious leaders, educators, businesses, health providers, labor unions, political and government officials to assist in the survival and robust growth of the community.

    UCLM is committed to God’s messianic history of salvation and liberation. Liberating faith has to do with taking back our community from the fierce demonic strongholds which oppress it.

    These strongholds must be overcome and dismantled through the church’s courageous witness centered in the Cross of Jesus and His Resurrection. The strongholds are destroyed by the Christian witness to the Lordship of Jesus not in the insular four walls of the church building but in the world, in the community where people are also in pain and sin in need of redemption.

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