Over 600 TMO leaders from 44 institutions convened Sunday, October 20th at Assumption Catholic Church to hold Houston mayoral candidates accountable to the organization's slate of issues. TMO leaders shared stories and asked targeted questions about gun safety, reducing fear in immigrant communities, flood recovery, flood prevention, illegal dumping, workforce development, and just wages.
All three candidates -- Mr. Tony Buzbee, Mr. Bill King, and Mr. Sylvester Turner -- committed to meeting with TMO leaders within the first 30 days in office if elected.
With early voting beginning Tuesday, TMO leaders reminded the assembly to vote and help get out the vote.
Mayoral Candidates Pressed on Guns, Harvey Recovery, Dumping, Houston Chronicle
As the state legislature prepares to convene, local clergy and The Metropolitan Organization on Sunday held a gun control vigil at Trinity United Methodist Church. Those present spoke passionately about gun safety policies.
“Despite the fact that we’re supposed to be a first-world country, a civilized nation, a nation of laws, we continue to see the scourge of gun violence in the United States,” said Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo....
David Lyon, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, read an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle in January of 2013. After every mass shooting in the years since, he has referred to the article and says he could still write it word for word. He eventually published a version for his congregation with blanks instead of the words “Sandy Hook” so that members could fill in the name of the latest disaster.
“Our purpose here is to stop filling in the blanks and change the narrative,” Lyon said.
For the Rev. Ed Jones, the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, the urgency of the vigil that he had been planning for months had been underscored by personal tragedy that very week.
A family member, 17-year-old Drew Conley, had been shot and killed the Monday before.
[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle]
Houstonians Recall Sandy Hook Victims and Push for Gun Law Changes, Houston Chronicle
Legislators on Quest to reform Gun Laws, Houston Chronicle
Fulfilling a commitment made to TMO earlier this year, Houston Police Chief (and incoming president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association) Art Acevedo publicly urged American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, to examine its safety practices and standards.
The joint letter, signed also by Rabbi David Lyon, Senior of Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel and leader with TMO, and Montgomery Police Chief (and outgoing MCCA president), J. Thomas Manger, was accompanied with a supportive statement by the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. Do Not Stand Idly By is a national IAF campaign made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders to promote the production and use of smart guns.
[Photo Credit: Bloomberg Business]
Police Chiefs, Clergy to Gunmaker: Cut Shootings by Making Guns Safer, Houston Chronicle
Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer, Bloomberg Business
At a gathering of 100 clergy and leaders from diverse faith communities at Congregation Beth Israel, TMO succeeded in leveraging the support of Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, making Houston the first city in Texas to support the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign for gun safety.
The ceremonial signing was preceded by remarks by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher (Metro IAF), Mr. Ernesto Cortes Jr. (West / Southwest IAF), and Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo about the pressing need for an effective strategy. Rabbi Mosbacher described the 'Do Not Stand Idly By' campaign as a market-based approach to entice gun manufacturers to develop safe(r) gun technologies that make it more difficult for stolen guns to be used and / or sold on the black market. Cortes described the importance of building lasting power through relationships and community organizing. Chief Acevedo expressed his support for the strategy, and agreed to sign on.
Other institutions in attendance included:
Temple Emanu El, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Congregation Brith Shalom, Congregation Shma-Koleina, Jewish Living and Learning, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, St. Andrews United Methodist, eMgage, St. James Episcopal, Hope Episcopal, Our Mother of Mercy, Catholic Charities, St. Mary Magdalene, Assumption Catholic, First Metropolitan, Trinity United Methodist, St. Andrews Episcopal, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Stephen's Episcopal, Chapelwood United Methodist, Holy Family, All Saints Catholic, Presbytery of New Covenant, Memorial Drive United Methodist, St. Anne de Beaupre, and Dallas Area Interfaith.
Houston Might Join Campaign for Gun Safety Focusing on Manufacturer, Houston Public Media
More than 1,300 leaders from TMO assembled at Assumption Catholic Church to clarify the impact of anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez responded to questions and concerns raised by leaders, as did Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Lori Bender and Carolina Ortuzar-Diaz, an immigration attorney from Manny Ramirez Law Firm.
[Photo Credit: Douglas Pierre]
TMO members held an accountability session with candidates for Sheriff Ron Hickman and Ed Gonzalez, and District Attorney candidate Kim Ogg. The candidates agreed to work with TMO to create a plan to reduce jail overcrowding, enhance deputy training, institute new bail reform measures, and oppose legislation forcing law enforcement officers to act as immigration agents.
Leaders from Texas IAF organizations across the state, including TMO leader Rev. John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church of Houston, drove into Austin for the bi-annual legislative session to fight Senate Bill 185. This bill would have outlawed sanctuary cities in Texas and threatened local efforts to build better relations between police and communities. The intervention of Texas IAF leaders, including testimony by Rev. Ogletree and Fr. Carlos Zuniga (Valley Interfaith), and allies, succeeded in killing the bill.
In photo, Fr. Carlos Zuniga of Valley Interfaith and Rev. John Ogletree of TMO testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security.
200 TMO leaders assembled at St. Peter Catholic Church with an agenda: to clearly lay out their public safety concerns to the police and obtain responses to those concerns. They walked away with much more.
Assistant Police Chief Josh Bruegger related, "It is important..., obviously to us, that we have this relationship." Father Pedro Lopez of St. Peter Episcopal told leaders,"We have a moral obligation to do everything within our power to stop crime in our community. We do not want more people robbed at gunpoint, we do not want our children to be victims of drug use, of gun violence or our homes to be vandalized. Be good Samaritans, take action and keep our eyes open, and call and report any crime. Will you commit to that today?"
[Photo Credit: Y. C. Orozco, Pasadena Citizen]
Church Leaders, Police Officials Meet for Discussion on Crime in North Pasadena, Pasadena Citizen [pdf]
Franklin Olson and Rev. Kevin A. Collins weigh in on Mayor Anise Parker's proposal regarding public safety:
The Metropolitan Organization is heartened by Mayor Annise Parker's proposal that the closest available police officer, whether it be an officer from the Houston Police Department or officers from one of the other 58 policing entities in Harris County, be sent to the scene of emergency calls.
Full Article, Houston Chronicle