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How is Arizona handling racism? Faith leaders say Governor Doug Ducey not doing enough

Posted at 5:23 PM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 23:28:35-04

PHOENIX — It’s been more than three months since Governor Doug Ducey said he’s learning about systemic racism after sitting down with faith leaders in the African American community.

The governor posted to social media on May 31 a sit-down meeting with faith leaders for an open discussion on race relations.

However, since then, several key leaders say it’s been quiet from the governor and it brings concerns if racial issues is a priority for Governor Ducey.

In a press conference in early June, Ducey talked about the meeting with faith leaders, “It wasn’t my first meeting, it won’t be my last, I think we spent about 90 minutes together."

Pastor Warren Stewart, Jr. tells ABC15 his father led that meeting with Governor Ducey, and his father who is also a community faith leader has not heard from him either.

“I didn’t expect anything to come after that meeting but mostly lip service, if he wanted to really be true to what he said, he would have followed up,” he added.

Stewart Jr. and Sr. aren’t the only ones who sat down in that meeting, Bishop Jennifer Reddall and Pastor Redeem Robinson also say it’s been quiet since then.

Stewart, Jr. said if his father did hear from the governor, the clergy would have known. “If he did hear from him, he would have let all the Black clergy know, Hispanic, and White clergy that were all there, it was very diverse.”

The streets of Phoenix are now quieter, but the calls for change are still there to address systemic racism.

“Racism is the power to inflict policy to keep people oppressed or don’t give people justice and as the governor of Arizona, he can do that, he has my personal phone number, he can call me if he wants to move on something,” said Stewart.

Some democratic lawmakers have called for a special session to address police reform and racial justice, but there has been no movement on that either.

“The governor has been leaning on the community for literally months promising to do something on police reform, promising to build bridges, but we haven’t seen anything and that’s more of the same with Governor Ducey, he’ll talk a good game in front of the camera, but when it comes to actually policy, we have not seen it,” said Representative Reginald Bolding.

One other leader, Rev. Jarrett Maupin, was also in that meeting at the end of May and said although there hasn’t been a sit down meeting, his staff has been accessible and he’s been able to reach out for discussions on affordable housing, education, and COVID-19 resources for the African American community.

“That’s all been a result of them responding to instances of where we’ve reached out and demanded a response,” said Maupin.

Stewart said that it is no longer about talking anymore, but about action, “come out to a protest, say ‘Black lives matter,’ say that you believe that and enforcing policies that protect us, not like the officers that get away with killing Dion Johnson.”

A spokesperson for Governor Doug Ducey said in an email that the dialogue has been continued, and it is ongoing.

In a statement, Patrick Ptak wrote, “The governor has met with and engaged in dialogue with members of the African American Community (see some examples below). Our office also has worked with legislators of both parties, law enforcement officials, community leaders and, yes, members of the African American faith community on an ongoing basis. Where meetings have taken place, staff have stayed engaged on policy issues discussed, often with conversations occurring multiple times a week or even daily at times. This work and these conversations remain ongoing.”

Ptak gave several examples of the governor meeting back in early June with other members in the African American community that included photos with Black Mothers Forum and a meeting with Arizona Commission on African American Affairs

“Additional meetings with any of these groups can and likely will take place in the future as there are updates,” said Ptak.