OSUMC/Community Racial Justice Task Force was established in early 2016 to promote equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. As part of these efforts, the Task Force seeks to forge alliances with local community organizers, non-profit organizations, and government entities to address racial justice in a cooperative manner.
Criminal Justice Reform. Inspired by a book study of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, the Task Force explores ways to reduce the burden of mass incarceration that disproportionately affects black and brown people in our community. We partner with other community organizations such as the Athens Anti- Discrimination Movement (AADM) and Athens for Everyone as well as members of the legal community to:
- Identify ways to prevent extended jail time prior to trial that can pressure people to accept guilty pleas rather than have a fair hearing.
- Serve as witnesses to the injustices inherent in the system by attending trials and hearings in local courts and meetings with members of the criminal justice system in Athens, including the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Court System.
- Address systemic shortcomings that lead to incarceration rather than treatment for those with mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Prevent youth involvement with the criminal justice system with local efforts to end the school to prison pipeline led by the AADM.
First Fridays. Founded by Task Force member Broderick Flanagan, First Fridays is a family centered event designed to build a sense of shared community and neighborhood in the Triangle Plaza area of east Athens. OSUMC members serve as volunteers at these events who lead activities and provide food, games, and fun for neighborhood participants. First Fridays are held from 6-8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month, June through August at the East Athens Community Center, 400 McKinley Drive.
World Cafes The Task Force has also sponsored World Cafes which facilitate discussions about race and racism with small racially diverse groups, most recently in March 2018 between students of the Clarke County School District Career Academy and UGA representatives.