On August 11, 2015, The Institute for Non Violence in Los Angeles and Days of Dialogue program kicked off a citywide discussion to address “The Future of Policing”. Days of Dialogue is designed to address contentious topics and challenging issues within local and national communities. Close to 900 people participated in dialogues hosted at 12 sites across Los Angeles County.
In efforts to have a honest dialogue, trained facilitators, mediators and experienced volunteers from the L.A. City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program, founded by Avis Ridley Thomas and Mediators Beyond Borders worked with host organizations in various parts of the city to create a safe space for community members, police officers and first responders to have open dialogue by establishing mutual ground rules, respect and resources to further address the concerns of the this polarizing topic, “The Future of Policing”.
The historical backdrop book-ending Days of Dialogue’s significance was the 50th Anniversary of the Watts Rebellion and the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of federal legislation reflective of impacting today’s current climate of police misconduct, judicial rulings, racial profiling, constitutional violations and ambiguous forms of unaccounted leadership. In the beginning, it was quite awkward because you could feel the apprehension to open up lingering in the atmosphere. Then, conversations began to flow almost effortlessly with the spark of the first question. An example of the type of productive questions used to facilitate community dialogue was: While police have the primary responsibility to enforce the law, what are the unique responsibilities that you and community members have in keeping our community safe? Or what critical factors need consideration to help ensure more positive interaction between all community members and the police?”
The nature of Days of Dialogue seemingly took off between the facts, personal stories and differences of opinion. In order to assure participants were heard and assist in keeping respect in tact, host organization’s like St. Elmo Village had a ‘no phone zone’ policy to ensure a degree of privacy. It’s founders Roderick and Rozzell Sykes believed that your presence can save a life. “Don’t wait on Them or They to start, if you need a weapon let your weapon be love”, says Roderick Sykes to a group of dialogue participants.
Indeed, it can seem unnatural for individuals who have lost loved ones or manage fatal crisis on a regular basis to be calm for three hours. However, Days of Dialogue encouraged community residence to operate from a process of peace even though majority of the circumstances were carried by heavy burdens and worry.
Overall, according to Days of Dialogue Participant evaluations indicated, 97% of participants indicated that they felt free to express their views on all issues and that their views were heard and that dialogue has a powerfully positive effect on the community. As Days of Dialogue continues, it is evident that living in fear of law enforcement traumatizes the Black community and the road to rebuilding trust is deep-rooted but not impossible. Take a first step, have a heart led conversation.
To find out more about the Days of Dialogue and the community conclusions on the “Future Of Policing” go to: www.daysofdialogue.org | www.futureofpolicing.org | For Time Warner webcast register for Free at: http://engage.vevent.com/index.jsp?eid=2142&seid=74