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On Thursday, March 26, Youth Radio brought together young people, community leaders and representatives from police departments throughout the East Bay for a candid discussion about building trust and safety in our communities.
The forum kicked off with a panel discussion co-moderated by Youth Radio Senior Producer Brett Myers and Deputy Director Jabari Gray. Panelists included YR participants Joi Smith and Soraya Shockley, Performing Arts Producer from RYSE Youth Center Donte Clark, Youth Alive Participant Alonso Santiago, Oakland Police Department Lieutenant Leronne Armstrong, and Richmond Police Department Chief Chris Magnus.
The panel discussion got to the heart of some big issues such as racial profiling, increasing police officer accountability, and what it would take to change the culture of youth & police interaction.
Youth participants asked tough questions for Chief Magnus and Lieutenant Armstrong, including, “for day-to-day actions, are officers trained in leniency and restraint?” and “do you ever follow procedures that you don’t agree with?”
Audience members addressed what they think safety and trust would look like in Oakland. One audience member shared that this conversation is “a good step, but it’s a long walk” to building community trust.
The evening concluded with some key takeaways from our youth participants. YR Panelist Soraya emphasized that when police officers “put on that uniform…they are a part of my community, OUR community,” while Joi reiterated,“I want you to know that we are hurt, we are mad,” and RYSE Youth Center Participant Donte expressed that officers “are not above the law, you are people, we are people.”
Youth Radio thanks all of its participants, attendees, and community supporters who contributed to this important dialogue. For more information on future events and forums, contact email@example.com.
We asked our audience members to submit their own ideas on how we can build community trust. Check out some of their ideas:
- Ongoing trainings for police officers on topics including implicit bias, trauma-informed engagement, and restorative justice practices.
- Active recruitment of people within the community to be a part of local police departments, and ensuring the police force is diverse.
- Continuous real and in-depth conversations between youth & police that get to the heart of stereotypes, racial bias, and other generalizations that affect police-community relations.
- The challenging of stereotypes that some police officers have about young people.
- Increased community meetings about issues related to police-community relations.
- Conversations between police and gang members about how they can work together in helping the community grow.
- More opportunities for young people to meet the officers that patrol their communities.
- Institutionalization of trainings for police departments that are led and designed by youth on what it means to be a young person in Oakland, what Oakland’s youth need, youth culture etc.
- A more robust accountability requirement for officers — not just “encouraging” police to apologize when they stop & search innocent people.
- Work between youth and police officers to redesign complaint processes and make it more accessible.
- For police departments to hold officers to the highest standard, so officers are aware they are not exempt from the law.
- Regular conversations and humanizing spaces for youth & police reaction.
- Creation of a youth advisory board at police stations.