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The work on policing that the times and our community demand begins in earnest at tonight’s Human Services Committee, in the capable hands of Chairperson Eleanor Revelle.

Necessary and sustainable changes will not happen at the speed of social media. Borrowing a phrase from my colleague Cicely Fleming, our focus needs to be on “reasonable and achievable government action.” Our task as a community is to determine what can be achieved and implemented as part of the 2021 budget and what are longer-term issues that require longer-term thinking and solutions.  

On a related topic, we cannot allow our outrage over the display of a confederate flag at Lighthouse Beach to cause us to draft and implement an ordinance that could not be reasonably expected to survive a court challenge.

There are limits to government restriction of free expression, no matter how objectionable that expression may be. The First Amendment is sacred and complex.

We need to act, but we need to act deliberately. An ordinance that feels good but is unenforceable is the same as no ordinance at all. That work begins in earnest tonight as well.

Dismissing things that we do not see with our own eyes as “fake” diminishes the credibility of our government and undermines the principle that the mayor and City Council serve all Evanston’s residents.

Our town’s future is all of ours to create in a way that affirms our values and respects the needs of all of our residents. It is time for all of us to walk the entire length of the fence, acknowledge what is there, and change the things that need to be changed.

The work begins tonight.

Mr. Suffredin is alderman of the Sixth Ward.