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“For many people this is not a huge problem, but for a percentage of people, it can be a deadly problem.” —Don Merrill

Think about it. For some people, a burned-out taillight is a minor maintenance issue. For others, it’s the first step towards a potentially deadly confrontation. After a string of police shootings of unarmed people of color, Don Merrill wants to stop talking and do something. So he’s setting up a nonprofit with a very simple goal: to replace burned-out headlights and taillights on vehicles driven by people of color.

In this episode Amy and Don discuss how this easy step could result in fewer hostile interactions with police, a strengthening of community, and more open discussions between police and residents. You’ll hear how everyone from community colleges to auto parts stores to churches will be involved, and get an insight into the statistics that show why this project is so needed.

Provocateur

Amy Pearl, Hatch Innovation

Guests

merrillDon Merrill – Owner, Don Merrill & Associates

Currently, working on a book about the public radio pledge drive.

Seven years with Armed Forces Radio and Television. Eleven years as a public relations specialist for the Federal Government. Four years with commercial radio and newspapers. Four years as a freelance writer specializing in feature and investigative reporting.

Goals include telling the little stories of big companies and the big stories of little companies for domestic and international reading audiences. My intention is to build a clientel of commercial, government and non-profit clients who turn to me to promote their work in consumer and trade, print and online publications by emphasizing the human side of that work. I am especially interested in the work of non-profits and am prone to donate work to good causes.

Specialties: Interviewing experience with celebrities, government officials, politicians and man-on-the-street (vox populi). Government and military procedures and protocols experience.

policing: http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/naacp-statement-on-death-of-nyc-man-after-police-chokehold

In this episode you’ll learn

  • About Don’s inspiration for starting a nonprofit that does nothing but change headlight/taillight bulbs- “I wanted to stop talking, and stop being consumed by other people talking, and do something.”
  • Why this project is bottom up instead of top down – going into communities and talking to people where they are.
  • The partners will be involved in the project – churches, colleges or places that have automotive repair programs, auto parts stores, community groups.
  • The data that makes this project so compelling.
  • How many people have no concern they’ll be pulled over by police for a broken taillight, let alone be shot by police – while for others it’s a real fear.
  • How so many bad things happen on a daily basis that compete for our attention, resulting in easily-fixable things getting lost in the noise.
  • Why vilifying police or protesters doesn’t fix anything.
  • About ‘broken windows’ policing, and how it has been criticized for leading to assumptions that every car with a broken taillight contains a person of color about to do wrong.
  • How just because officers look like the communities they serve, doesn’t mean that the people in those communities will feel any safer or better treated by the police.
  • What happened when Amy did not behave in the correct way when pulled over, and how that could not happen had she been a person of color.
  • After everything that has happened recently, Don wanted to stop talking, and stop being consumed by other people talking, and do something.
  • How the solutions will be imperfect, but perfect is the enemy of the good.

Links to Resources Mentioned

How to reach Don – CNBSeen: @CNBSeenNow
Don’t shoot PDX https://www.facebook.com/DontShootPDX/
Black Lives Matter http://blacklivesmatter.com/
Driving While Black app: http://dwbtheapp.com/
NAACP Statement on Eric Garner death & ‘broken windows’

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