Michael Worthy, Kensington, community mental health specialist and outreach worker

Michael Worthy poses for a photo while volunteering at Prevention Point’s food distribution site, Step Up to the Plate, on June 2, 2020. (Photo by Erin Blewett)

Editor’s note: The responses have been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.

What do you think of everything that’s going on in the neighborhood and the city in regards to the following: peaceful protests, damage to businesses, looting, and the police response to protests, damages, or looting?

Being a Black man, I believe that [the protests are] necessary. When we look back at the decades of hurt, pain, and resentment that has been built up, this was the most likely outcome. As for the looting, I think [people] could have found other ways to express themselves. But that too, could have been foreseen. I mean — the pain and the anguish of not being heard over decades of time — to bring about change, this seemed to be the only way that people would truly listen to them.

The police, like we are, are learning how to live in this new avenue of change. It’s really hard for everyone that’s connected to the proposed changes that need to happen. I mean, they responded according to what they know and how they’ve been taking care of business as usual.  But we can’t be business as usual. Business as usual is what sparked all of this. [The police] were doing only what they were trained to do and what they know how to do. But now, they have to find a new way.

What solutions do you hope to see in your community or in general after these protests? 

Hopefully, more unity. Hopefully, more understanding, more changes coming about.

In light of current events, what are the issues that you would like the Kenney administration, city council, and the rest of city government to focus on in the upcoming budget to help your community?

Services all the way around the board. A lack of [services] has been a part of the issue. There’s such a strong demand [for] services that haven’t been provided for a specific group of people during the course of all of these decades and all of these different administrations. We need to work toward [fixing] that. First, I think that once people become acknowledged and are satisfied with the outcome of what the administration is doing to solidify their needs, then you’ll see some action begin to happen.

How would you describe the policing in your community, and what would you like to see in the police department moving forward?

The police can only do what they were trained to do on the level in which they were trained to do it. I think that it’s about digging deeper into the individual self and finding the truth in it. What would I like to see moving forward? A stronger interaction between the police and the community. They’re not just here to serve and protect, they’re also here to let the community know that they’re here for you. 

In the 1970s, a little later, maybe in the early 80s, they had a police presence walking down the street, and that presence would deter criminal activity, and it would put them in a greater connection with the community, and they stopped that. Do you know what it’s like to have a police officer walking down the street every day and become, not just familiar with them, but connected to them? That would bring about a whole bunch of change, man. But they can’t do that when the community is outraged over something that most of [the police here] don’t even know about because they’re too young to know about it.”

To read more Community Responses, click here.


Editors: Claire Wolters, Zari Tarazona, Siani Colon / Designer: Henry Savage / Translator: N/A

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