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Solutions Summit on policing: No healing, just solutions

This Saturday, Partners for a Racism-Free Community is creating space for the community to drive the conversation around policing and its role in this space.
2016 FORUM at DeVos Place

2016 FORUM at DeVos Place /Partners for a Racism-Free Community

We are, more often than not, confronted with truths simultaneously. But let’s get some painful admissions out of the way. First, we suck at multi-tasking. Second, we have a way of silencing the priorities of others to make space for our own. Thirdly, we’ve found a way to make the pain of others irrelevant to our lives.

Everything I’ve just listed is problematic. None of it is impossible to address.

Professionally, I deal in facts – so I offer a few to preface the greater narrative at hand. Fact: Black people are more likely to die in encounters with law enforcement than white people. Fact: Policing is a complex topic. Fact: No one has all of the information when coming to the table to address issues around community relations and policing. Fact: Police brutality is an issue that affects Grand Rapids – just ask the mother of Donovan Braswell.

This is what we know: communities must be the architects of their solutions at all times. Prescriptive solutions are never effective and when the community at large is not invited to the conversation – the outcome of the work is not valid.

This Saturday, Partners for a Racism-Free Community is creating space for the community to drive the conversation around policing and its role in this space. This will not be a space for healing. While this community is in dire need of those spaces as well - the space that my colleagues and I have created for this Saturday is not one of them. The community needs to have a real time conversation on the facts, have their questions answered by individuals removed just enough to give perspective and have discussions with neighbors about how they shape their community.

Our goal in hosting this event is that we will encourage folks to have the conversations they are not comfortable and/or allowed to have anywhere else. Our goal is to give the community space to discuss the community they want to make. We have partnered with WGVU Public Media to live stream the event and with the help of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School we have created space for community members to discuss solutions. Maybe one of those solutions will in fact be spaces for healing – but this is community driven and we maintain the mission of not creating prescriptive spaces.

If you are not able to join us in person tomorrow, consider sharing your thoughts on the Facebook event page or use the hashtag #CommunityIP on Facebook or Twitter. Partners for a Racism-Free Community will share the feedback from the event online to ensure the action doesn’t end when the summit concludes. Also, for more information on police brutality and how it has affected Grand Rapids check out Mutually Inclusive’s latest broadcast on policing.

Join Partners for a Racism-Free Community tomorrow from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at WMU Cooley Law School in Downtown Grand Rapids to discuss how the community can engage in shaping police culture in the city and better control the outcomes.

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