Patrick Yoes (01:22.826)
Well, Reverend, thank you again for joining us on a Blue View podcast. It's always a pleasure to talk with you. And I love your enthusiasm and your, your support for law enforcement and your desire to build a better working relationship between our communities and law enforcement. You've been a great partner with us. And we're very proud to be a partner of a faith in blue weekend. And so thank you for coming back. Let's let's talk about faith in blue weekend for 2023.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (01:51.666)
It's always good to be with you, Pat, and it was great to join you at your conference in Las Vegas.
The work that FOP is doing is often underrepresented in the media and in the public conversation around building bridges between law enforcement and communities. I think people know that FOP is an aggressive advocate for law enforcement officers and that's what you should be as a union. But you also very compassionately deal with the issues that communities are challenged with around crime and violence, around relationship between law enforcement and communities. So it's always good to be with you both in person and virtually.
Patrick Yoes (02:27.19)
Well, thank you. Thank you. Reverend, I know, you know, our viewers, you've been on here before. But if we have any new viewers, because you could tell them just a little bit about yourself and your background.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (02:36.63)
So I have been involved in the work of community as an advocate for human and civil rights the entirety of my adult life. I've started preaching when I was around eight years old. And so I'm 46 now. I've been at this work of ministry and in service to God and humanity a long time. I had the good fortune of being mentored by many of the icons that work closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, and so many others.
So, several years ago, Pat, when I started to see our country going in the wrong direction when it came to law enforcement and community relations matters, I knew we needed to do something different because we've never progressed when we separate or segregate ourselves from one another. So when I started to see people with one perspective on one corner yelling and screaming one message and then people on a different corner yelling and screaming another message, I knew we were going in the wrong direction.
something distinctly different. So I called you and a bunch of our other friends in law enforcement to figure out what we could do to really ignite a genuine movement, not of division, but of unity and reconciliation and healing, both to deal with the law enforcement involved tragedies that should not have happened like George Floyd, but more importantly to deal with the ongoing crime and violence in our local communities.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (04:06.364)
The number one civil rights issue in America today, and the number one human rights issue quite frankly, is crime. More people are losing their lives in underprivileged communities to crime and violence and any other kind of subject matter. So it's incumbent upon all of us to figure out a pathway forward and together with FOP and all of the national organizations, we came up with this idea of a national weekend that recalibrates the conversation happening around policing.
from the points of division and rallying around our points of unity. There is, without a doubt, this misperception and really a false narrative that there's a large contingency of the American people that don't support law enforcement, when the truth of the matter is more than 70 percent of Hispanic and African American communities and more than 80 percent of white Americans want the same or more law enforcement.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (05:06.344)
be those who are focused on division and not on unity. So what we're doing with National Faith and Blue Weekend is really elevating the voice of the majority of the American people of every political ideology, of every race, of every philosophy that support law enforcement. People want to be policed with equity and fairness and justice. They don't want the George Floyds and the other controversial law enforcement involved tragedies. But I
found that our pathway to progress around these issues is one that runs right through the hearts of unity and collaboration of the American people. And that's what National Faith in Blue Weekend is all about.
Patrick Yoes (05:49.974)
Yeah, you know, look, I think the problem we have in society today is we have a whole lot of people talking at each other with very few talking to each other. And they're like, we all want the same thing. I can tell you they're 800,000 or so law enforcement officers every day who suit up and show up and go into communities and make a make a huge difference in the quality of life of the people they serve. But there's also a human element involved with it as well. It's nobody's ever
Rev. Markel Hutchins (05:58.356)
Patrick Yoes (06:20.388)
profession, not show me a profession that is. I mean, we all I mean, it's just a cross section of, you know, society. In addition to that, we're asked to do some pretty, some pretty extraordinary things at times. And it's very fluid. And it's just a very difficult job. It's only more difficult when people
are focused on trying to divide and create and create barriers. Look, and I've always said that there's not a solution. There's not a problem out there that we can't find a solution to. We're all committed to finding that solution. But the only way we're ever going to do it is if we work together. We can't we can't ignore different perspectives.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (06:43.683)
Rev. Markel Hutchins (06:54.583)
And you don't pet!
End of the day.
And the truth of the matter is that the answers to the challenges we face, the solutions that people seek on all sides of these issues, will not be printed in ink in a piece of legislation or in an executive order. The answers don't simply lie in more rules or more policy or more procedure or even more prosecutions. That's not where the answer lies. The answer lies in turning to each other, because you're absolutely right.
these issues both with reduction of crime and violence, the attacks and assaults on our law enforcement professionals, as well as officer-involved tragedies. The answers lie in the hearts and minds of the American people and the people that suit up and boot up to go serve our communities every day. But as long as we're yelling and screaming and talking at each other, there are no solutions to be found. The only chance that we have to improve the profession, to improve the relationship, to
reduce crime is when law enforcement officers and agencies and communities can work collaboratively and work through whatever small differences they may have. And that's what National Faith in Blue Weekend is about. The mission is to facilitate safer, stronger, and more unified communities by bringing law enforcement officers together with the community residents that they serve in non-enforcement environments where people are free to get to know each other and to collaborate.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (08:29.716)
converse on a human level. One of the biggest challenges we have is people are not recognizing the humanity in one another. And we see that in our politics. We see it in every other aspect of our lives. But in the law enforcement profession, it really can have disastrous consequences. We're seeing officer morale suffering at the hands of some of the divisions that we've seen. We see people leaving the profession. We see attacks and assaults.
on our nation's law enforcement professionals. We've got to change that, but it's going to require every law enforcement agency, every community resident, every faith-based and community organization to get involved and actually be the change that we all want to see.
Patrick Yoes (09:14.982)
So let's talk about the beauty of this initiative. Across this country, every weekend, in houses of worship, people are gathering. They're gathering, they're talking, they're sharing. And that is a network that I think is often overlooked.
uh... the ability to be able to reach out in and have those meaningful discussions about things that are important to each and every community every single one of them is going to be a little bit different but it's the end result is as we all want the same thing let's talk about this initiative or how we are pulling uh... the goal is to pull these uh... houses of faith across this country uh... towards this one common goal of getting to know uh... those who police their communities let's start creating those relationships if we can do it one if we can do it one weekend
We can do it three in a 52 weekends a year. We can do it 365 days a year
Rev. Markel Hutchins (10:08.202)
Absolutely. When we first met, and I'm so thankful that you
We're part of that discussion in April of 2020 when we first met to kind of contemplate what we could do to actually create a movement of unity and healing and collaboration because the conversations were getting out of control. We were seeing divisive protests that were turning to riots and all those kinds of things. And we were seeing very little solutions. When we talked about that, we started looking as organizations, the FOP and the police chiefs association.
Sheriffs' Associations, et cetera. We started contemplating what entities in our communities could really make a difference around these issues and actually bring people together to figure out actual solutions. And we came to the conclusion that there are no institutions in our local neighborhoods that have the kind of power, the kind of influence, and the kind of network that faith-based organizations have. 65 million, 65 million people participate in some form
of a faith-based service every week. There are 350,000 faith-based organizations in this country. So when we're looking at who can actually reset the conversation, who can change the temperature, who can change the tone, faith-based organizations are uniquely positioned to do that. There has never been a movement in American history that was not anchored in the faith community. If you look at, for example, the Civil Rights Movement, those were ministers,
you're Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, Reverend John Lewis, et cetera, et cetera, that changed America through the Civil Rights Movement. If there's going to be any real change in how communities and law enforcement relate, if there's going to be any change really in terms of how communities activate and collaborate with law enforcement, it will not be because the politicians are at the center of it, but because the faith community steps up and assumes their rightful
Rev. Markel Hutchins (12:12.42)
There's a mass gathering of faith-based people every single week, and it is an incredible potential for a force multiplication for public safety goals in our local communities. And that's kind of why we lean into Faith in Blue Weekend. So what happens over the course of Faith in Blue Weekend is thousands of faith-based organizations will partner with their local law enforcement entities, be it an FOP lodge, a police department, a state patrol unit, whatever.
the law enforcement agency is, the faith-based organization and the law enforcement entity will collaborate together and co-host some form of community activity so that the community and the law enforcement officers that police in those communities can come together in safe space. And the activities range, everything from a public safety briefing or an active shooter training to a softball game, a football tailgate, a coffee with a cop, a meet and greet.
an art festival, a concert, a variety of activities, and all of these things we have planned out for the law enforcement organizations. So there's very little planning that's needed. We've created every resource imaginable. So anyone of the people listening to us, Pat, can go to faithandblue.org. Go to the resources tab. There's a first class toolkit.
They're first class social media assets, they're banners, they're t-shirt designs, they're posters, there's information brochures in 12 or so different languages. So thanks to our partnership with FOP, our sponsorship from FirstNet built with AT&T, WRAP Technologies and the Motorola Solutions Foundation, there's no cost, we don't ask for anything.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (14:01.922)
We've put together everything that is needed and it's all based on 21st century policing and best practices for community engagement. So I really encourage all of our viewers, all of our listeners to go to faithinblue.org, download those resources and do something over the course of that weekend between law enforcement, even if it's just individual officers who just decide, you know what, I wanna do a Faith in Blue activity. I'm gonna go visit this faith-based organization.
just so that the people in my community know who I am and I know who they are.
Patrick Yoes (14:33.162)
Yeah, you know, if you if there's, if there's any excuses that you had for not doing this, you've just taken them all away. We don't want your money. We're not looking for anything other than just a desire to make a difference. So if I if you feel that you, you know, you really have made it easy for you. But this we've got a couple of years under our belt already. This and you know, of course, COVID and I interfere with this to some extent, but can you just
Rev. Markel Hutchins (14:46.02)
Patrick Yoes (15:02.754)
kind of relay some of the successes that we've had in just these first couple of years.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (15:08.038)
incredibly Pat. We did this first time. So again, we didn't start thinking about this, as you will remember, until April of 2020. But we decided collectively that we did not need to wait until after the 2020 election to do our first Faith in Blue weekend. So we held the first Faith in Blue the second weekend in October of 2020.
Despite COVID, the pandemic, all of that, it was incredibly successful. There were a thousand activities across 43 states in the first year of a new concept, a new program in the midst of COVID. The second year, Faith in Blue doubled. In 2021, there were a thousand activity, 2000 activities across all 50 states for the second Faith in Blue weekend. Last year was the third national Faith in Blue weekend. Again, the second weekend in October.
there were about 3000 different activities across all 50 states. There is a real hunger and there's a real thirst in this country for the kind of collaboration unity that, that faith in blue represents. And so we can see this initiative has grown by leaps and bounds every single year. So October 6th through the 9th is the 2023 national faith in blue weekend. This is the fourth year that will be done. And we expect
around 4,000 different activities to happen across all 50 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It's growing. The movement is growing. This is how we will ultimately help to reshape and reframe what we've seen so much negativity around in the media and in social media. Growing this kind of footprint, we had no idea when we first started this just three and a half years ago.
that within a four year timeframe, Faith in Blue would become the largest and most consolidated police community outreach project in American history. I'm proud to say to you and to FOP members across this country that now, not only is every national law enforcement organization involved and partnering with Faith in Blue Weekend, the US Department of Justice, Homeland Security have been partners of ours, as well the police chiefs and or sheriff's associations.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (17:18.302)
and all 50 states are now collaborating with Faith in Blue Weekend. We're working hard to make sure that we're helping to change how the community and law enforcement get along and more importantly, the messages that are put forward about law enforcement in this moment. There's no good, there's no end to the good that we can accomplish, but we have to work together and that's what this effort is all about and we want everybody to be involved.
Patrick Yoes (17:45.214)
So here we are, we have a an opportunity you get, you get two choices in front of you can continue to curse the darkness so you can light a candle. So let's and thank you, Reverend, thank you for your passion on this initiative in working with law enforcement to build those bridges across this country. You're you are correct. The poll after poll after poll shows that America supports law enforcement. Are we perfect now? But
But there's nothing we can't fix if we work together. And it's all starts with a simple conversation. And so thank you for this initiative. Thank you for joining us today. We'll put that information back on the screen for everyone to, to know where to go to get the to get the information they need to create their own localized own personality, faith and blue weekend within their community on October 6 through ninth. Thank you for joining us. Yeah.
Rev. Markel Hutchins (18:16.228)
Rev. Markel Hutchins (18:38.218)
And let me say this one final thing, Pat.
It doesn't have to be anything huge. That's not the point. The point of Faith in Blue Weekend is not just to do some big, grandiose event, but the small conversations in small communities with those faith-based organizations, it's what's going to change things. And you're absolutely right, I love it when you say, we can either light a candle or curse the darkness. And we've only got a few weeks before Faith in Blue Weekend, but some of the activities that are outlined in the toolkit that is on the website at faithinblue.org
All the work is being done. Some of those activities can be planned within a couple of hours. So I just encourage everybody to visit the website, to get involved, and let's work together to make a difference in communities of every kind across our great nation.
Patrick Yoes (19:24.482)
Yeah, every journey starts with a single step, a single step, and in this case, a single conversation. So again, thank you. Thank you, Reverend. I appreciate all that you do appreciate your passion, and proud partner of faith and Blue Weekend, faith and Blue Weekend, October six through ninth, go ahead and sign up. Let's, let's make this best ever. We were growing every year. And let's, let's keep this movement moving forward to our viewers who tuned in to the Blueview podcast. Thank you for tuning in, where we talk about the issues that are so vitally important to the men and women who suit up and make a difference in our communities. Stay safe.