BROOKLYN—Dorchen Liedeholt is a lawyer and activist for women’s rights and on the board of directors for an organization called Sanctuary For Families. She was walking to the hospital to drop some things off for her mom when she saw a sea of protesters in front of the Cathedral of Saint Divine in Manhattan. Dorchen walked to the church and joined the march.
“Everybody got down on one knee, and we raised our fists to the air and we chanted, ‘No justice, no peace.’ I was so proud.”
Almost all of Liedeholt’s life has somehow been a part of activism. “One of the big movements when I was a teenager was the Civil rights movement; […] it really resonated with me.” She also participated in the Anti-war movement as a teenager and the women’s movement from a teenager into a young adult. After graduating from college, she moved to New York and worked in publishing as an editor.
Dorchen, though, knew what she wanted to do and being an editor wasn’t it. “At some point I began to realize I wanted to spend all my time in activism and my work for women’s rights—I didn’t only want to do it after work. I wanted to do activism ALL the time.”
As Dorchen walked through the protests she felt a mixture of emotions in her stomach when she saw these words: Abolish the police.
“One of my client’s sons’ fathers told him and his brother to run an errand,” Dorchen shares. “Both young men are African American, and they went out. They were just going to the store and at the same time, somebody called about a robbery nearby.” She paused. “So the police saw these young men, and they grabbed them by the shirt, and they made them put their heads to the concrete, and they pointed a gun at them. Then they said to get in the car. Now the young men went into the car, and the police realized they weren’t robbers, and they let them go. But can you imagine how scary that must’ve been for these kids?”
One of Dorchens client’s experiences with the police, though, have been positive. “A young man who was one of our clients—his mother was very much hurt by his father. One time, when the mother was being very badly hurt, the young man, who was 11 at the time, ran out and got the police. The police came and they protected the mother. This young man’s name is Michael and he is a policeman now.” Dorchen said, going over the experiences of the clients in her head, “The police saved his mother’s life.”
Thinking about these two stories and the phrase, “Abolish the police,” Dorchen explained how she thought the police SHOULD change, but not completely gotten rid of.
“You can agree with 95% of what people say, but there’s always gonna be the 5% that you don’t.” she said. “There needs to be police officers who are trained better. They need to be selected more carefully. They need to be supervised more carefully. And when they do something unjust or wrong, they need to be disciplined. All these things need to happen, but we still need police officers.”
She ended with, “Big change needs to happen.”