We began the meeting with introductions between people sitting in groups at 5 tables. Each participant spoke about specific neighborhoods and communities they feel accountable to.
We then moved into an emergent strategies process with each participant writing the problems and solutions facing the neighborhoods/communities they spoke about. The overarching themes are listed below:
Problems (In no hierarchical order):
Violence and Trauma (particularly with our youth)
Police misconduct and brutality
Solutions (In no hierarchical order):
Political education & Training
The 5 groups took about 45 minutes to look through parts of the Durham Beyond Policing Safety and Wellness proposal and discuss what they liked and what was missing in the proposal. The comments are captured below:
Talked a lot about domestic violence and where it shows up in our communities and in the criminal justice system. Mapped out how to use de-escalation techniques. How can we intervene when domestic violence occurs when the police are the only form of de escalation we have right now. Why is that the only form of de escalation that we have and how do we create better deescalation points that don’t criminalize mental illness and further endanger the person who has been harmed
There is a need for substance misuse and mental health resources.
Right now you have to actually put people in jail to give them access to these resources.
Don’t punish people with mental health issues, Find other ways to deal with domestic violence
Really liked the Cohoots example and S/O to what Ashley Canady is doing in her community to make it a Harm Free Zone. And the power of making in person connections.
We understand that there can be calls to someone other than police but definitely someone who is professionally trained to deal with an issue.
We believe that these resources don’t already exist because our society is addicted to punishment. We jump to punishment before treatment, love and care and helping people heal.
Where do we put our resources. We need a culture shift. Our resources could be redirected.
What’s missing in the proposal
There is a lack of alignment from education to employment. We need skills development that guarantees people jobs with dignity. Young men in the neighborhoods who sell drugs say they do not have access to jobs.
Talked about poverty, inequity and whether funding worker owned cooperatives could help to address that. There is a difference between training that allows for worker owned businesses to cycle money back into the Durham economy rather than funding corporations that move the money out of the community.
There is a lack of services benefiting children with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). THe lack of care in the classroom leads to suspension or expulsion, leading to the cycle of School tp prison pipeline. There are only 2 equity officers in Durham Public School system that is made up of a majority of poor people and people of color. There needs to be more programs that support and care for young people . More availability of therapy for teens
There is a lack of tree canopy, in many low income neighborhoods and that is intentional. The resource inequity that we talk about all the time is even reflected in our tree canopy, and access to green playing spaces and access to nature that cleans our air and cools our environment. There is an evidence based link to why it is important to repair all of that.
Appreciated resources that would have supported the police pilot got shunted to eviction diversion and paying part time workers a livable wage. We see those as root cause solutions that will help get us to a better place where everyone is safer.
We are in crisis mode. The community safety and wellness document is not written for crisis mode and should not be judged based on where we are. It is a management tool that shouldn’t be read as a crisis tool.
Really like the cohoots model. It moves us away from everyone calling the police for everything
When we talk about communities managing their own stuff how do we talk about people who are not from those communities who come in and start problems? What happens when people approach people who are not a part of their community about the ways they are behaving.
How do people define what it means to be community?
It is no longer what it used to be because of gentrification and displacement. People don’t know who others who live in their neighborhoods are. There is a lot of talk about calling the police because of people walking through their neighborhoods it changes the way people think about neighborhoods.
Even if we had unlimited resources, how do we mass train community? How do you get the masses to buy in? We are trying to change the minds of a generation. It will take a consecutive amount of consistent hours to see the manifestation of what we are trying to do.
We need to get past the flower to the root and once we destroy the system that was not created for any of us and we create a system for what we need, how do we get folks to buy in?
Police have been made essentialized by our governments and institutions. For instance, when a person gets into a car accident, insurance will not even recognize your claim without a police report You are not legally obligated to call the police when you get into a care accident, but if you want insurance to give you money to get your car fixed, you need the police. What we need is a network of mechanics who work on rotation to say this is my shift to take care of folks who’ve been in a car accident.
How have police been integrated into the needs of our society that they don’t necessarily need to exist for?
Police have been used as a bandaid to address crime rather than what is the root of the actual problems in land justice and economic development. If we start from the understanding that the police are a reactionary force then we understand that there is nothing the police can do to get to the root of the problem. If they are only reacting to things that have already happened.
We need to think about the gaps in resources when it comes to research around environmental justice and policies that are written from inadequate research that isn’t informed by Black people in the struggle or neighborhoods. Recreation centers in our neighborhoods are built from old materials that were never renovated and we are breathing in asbestos and other toxins we are not taking that into consideration when we are looking at data and saying why is there elevated incidences of violence.
We say environmental justice and use white supremist language that alienates us when at the end of the day the same corporations that are poisoning us here in NC are the same corporations using the toxins that were found in the round up where the man got cancer from doing his job spraying fields in Mississippi. We are doing research to say we don’t need more police but where is the research that says the reason for the increase of violence is that you are supporting corporations with funds that are bringing in pollution that are poisoning our communities increasing our rates of disease and mental capacity deficits.
We need wifi in low wealth neighborhoods. We need to slow down the process long enough for a task force to hold public hearings where the community can come out and tell their own stories. Give us enough time to organize. We need 3-4 months.
Understand that listening and action are 2 different things. You can tell your story and we can cry together but if there are no demands there will be no action.
Budgets are created in June. They were put together in December. Department heads come together with the city and county manager at the end of the year with their proposed budgets. If your project is not included in one of those then it will not get funded.
We are at the right time right now to have an impact on what’s happening to us. So even though the money won’t be allocated until June we need to be in the budget in December.
Our timeline to have a public hearing is now.
We need to engage the county. The city is in charge of the police department. But we have 2 things to deal with. Policy and resources. City takes care of brick & mortar (which includes the police department) But resources are managed by the county commissioners. We need to bring forth a marriage between the city and the county. We should also include the school board.
If you want politicians to listen to you, create voter registration in your neighborhoods. Create a database and tell the politicians how many people you have registered. Power listens to power and if you are not organizing power you are not going to get a good outcome.
The proposal needs to be made more accessible for community members to read. There need to be different ways that people can access the proposal. Like a Community Safety Proposal line dance lol.
The proposal is not the plan it is a blueprint for what a task force could look like. All county commissioners have also gotten access to the proposal and Durham Beyond Policing is committed to presenting the proposal to the school board.
We also used an exercise called the 5 Whys, root cause analysis, exercise as a way to determine one possible root cause of violence.
State the problem: Violence and Trauma (particularly with our youth)
Why does Violence and Trauma exist
Why does poverty exist
Lack of good jobs
Why is there a lack of good jobs
Lack of equitable resource development and training
Why is there a lack of equitable resource development
People don’t want an honest democracy
Why don’t people want an honest democracy
To solve one of the root causes that lead to violence in the community the people most impacted must have adequate resources and power. This can be achieved in part by voting for elected officials who will work through a true democratic process and will take the needs of the community seriously.