Rev. Peter Laarman

peter-laarman-15Rev. Peter Laarman serves on the Justice Not Jails steering committee. He formerly directed Progressive Christians Uniting, the LA-based network of activist individuals and congregations that first launched Justice Not Jails in 2012 as a multifaith initiative. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for ministry.

Who Should See LAPD Bodycam Video?  

Respond to the Survey - Make Your Voice Heard!! Justice Not Jails applauds Police Commission president Matt Johnson for inviting the public to weigh in on the question of releasing police bodycam video. When the city first started equipping officers with the cameras two years ago, we denounced the policy of leaving it entirely up to the police chief whether to release video (apart form court-ordered releases). We said that leaving it to the chief's discretion runs totally counter to the goals … [Read more...]

The Long Road Back: An Interview with Dominick Correy

Dominick Correy is a member of the Justice Not Jails Steering Committee who has been working for ten years as a "chaser" at Pasadena's Learning Works Charter School. A "chaser" is a staff specialist assigned to making sure the kids show up and do the work, also counseling them and sometimes running interference with the law. Learning Works was founded by Dr. Mikala Rahn, another Justice Not Jails friend and advisor. Dominick was recently appointed to serve as field representative for … [Read more...]

The Painful Truth: “I Am Not Your Negro”

"The story of the American Negro is the story of America. And it is not a pretty story." - James Baldwin am old enough to have encountered James Baldwin and his writing when I was still a student. Many of us back then read Baldwin's A Fire Next Time in much the same way that college students today read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. Yet despite the passage of more than five decades, white Americans as a whole have remained as clueless as the white "innocents" whom Baldwin both … [Read more...]

Why We Must Reason Together Through This State of Emergency

In conversations this past week with long-time friends and comrades from near and far, three shared reactions to the news of election night always rise to the surface: grief, rage, and dislocation. I want to suggest that we should value the sense of dislocation, as we are indeed in a new territory with new and unprecedented dangers in front of us. It's not a bad thing to feel dislocated and to realize that the strategies and tactics, and even the renewing rituals, that we have always relied … [Read more...]

Urge Gov. Brown: End Asset Forfeiture Abuse

A long hard effort by over 300 organizations, including Justice Not Jails, has now succeeded in passing SB 443--Sen. Holly Mitchell's bill that would curb abuses of civil asset forfeiture by police agencies--through both chambers of the legislature. Just as a reminder why SB 443 is necessary: the police currently have the power to take anyone's assets (cash, car, boat, home) merely on suspicion and with no due process or conviction of wrongdoing. Most victims of this abuse are low-income … [Read more...]

What Today’s Raging Debate About Policing Leaves Out

Public Safety Through a Different Lens In Los Angeles and in more than two dozen other cities, August 2 affords an opportunity to counter the stale narrative that you are either for the police or against them if you want safe streets and safe neighborhoods. In town halls, block parties, vigils, and protests across the country, everyday people will be coming together to explore the theme that greater social equity promotes greater safety by giving people a reason to be happy and a … [Read more...]

SafetyIs: A Night Out for Real Talk About Structural Injustice

Why Better Policing Won't Save Us Tuesday, August 2 - 7 p.m. - Ward AME Church 1177 West 25th Street - Los Angeles Free and Open to All he LAPD and other police departments around the US are calling Tuesday night "A Night Out Against Crime." They basically want communities motivated by fear to rally around law enforcement. Our Night Out for Safety and Liberation is about hope and change, not fear. We invite YOU to be part of an open conversation on 40 years of deliberate disinvestment in … [Read more...]

A Night Out for Safety and Liberation

A Night Out for Safety and Liberation August 2 - 7 p.m. Ward AME Church 1177 W. 25th Street Los Angeles Free and Open to the Public RSVP Here! very year 30 million Americans participate in the annual “Night Out for Safety” sponsored by law enforcement and neighborhood watch groups. Their premise: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” But what if what you are afraid of is law enforcement itself? This year Justice Not Jails invites the community to come together for a different kind of … [Read more...]

A Post-Dallas Challenge for Religious Progressives

Staying On Message about Structural Racism The easily-predicted meme of the moment coming from law enforcement officials and their many political allies is a threefold rebuke to the entire criminal justice reform movement—not just #BlackLivesMatter but all of us who consider fighting the mass criminalization of people of color (and the engineered economic immiseration of people of color—most specifically Black people) to be the nation’s most urgent unfinished business. The three main “beats” … [Read more...]

In Grief and Rage, Finding a Way Forward?

Even as we remain stunned by the events of last week, we at Justice Not Jails are deeply concerned that people who were never remotely sympathetic to the reality of abusive policing will now pounce on the tragic news from Dallas as justification for resisting legitimate efforts to reform policing practices and end the horrific ongoing mass criminalization of people of color. Rather than feature any "breaking news" items this week, we present five sobering reports on how much challenging work … [Read more...]