Youth Initiative

WHO WE ARE

In September 2020, we formed the Youth Initiative to examine issues of racial justice and police reform following the horrific killing of George Floyd by the police.  Our group is comprised of youth ages 12 and older who wanted to create a safe and open space to engage each other on issues of policing of communities of color, recent events involving the police throughout our nation, and the need for police reform. We explore how to educate ourselves on the historical roots of racial injustice, Christian and interfaith responses to social justice advocacy, and how to empower each other as advocates for change.


ADVOCACY, VOICE, & CHANGE

Over the course of 4 months, we developed the artistic, written and collaborative advocacy projects. We hope that by working together, we can raise our voices, educate our communities, and be engines of change. 

ARtistic Advocacy

The artistic advocacy group uses artistic expression to communicate visually the Youth Initiative’s central message of unity and love as a means of challenging racial injustice. We created a banner displaying the theme that guides us and which we hope will guide our communities in the future. 

Written Advocacy

The written advocacy group focuses on the power of data and the written word: fiction and non-fiction, authors, poets, speechwriters, data scientists, and researchers.  We consult resources that  help provide insight into systemic racism, social injustice and police reform initiatives in the United States. After we researched and engaged each other on these issues, the Youth Initiative created a written statement on police reform.


Youth Initiative Statement on Police Reform


The Youth Initiative is committed to advocating for police reform initiatives that emphasize accountability, transparency,and reformed processes.


Accountability

  • We support policies that foster greater police accountability. Specifically, we ask for improvement in accountability practices around incidents involving deadly force by police, hiring and termination decisions, and revision and review of protocols and procedures used in policing communities of color.

Transparency

  • We support legislation that ensures greater transparency by creating publicly available data related to the race, ethnicity, gender and other voluntarily provided information about residents involved in policing actions. 

Process

  • We support significantly enhanced background checks in police hiring practices, including checks for prior records of use of force and/or affiliation with extremist/hate groups.
  • We support legislative initiatives that would consider reasonable and balanced reforms to qualified immunity defenses, which often are used to shield police officers who use excessive and lethal force.
  • We support clarification and reform of police protocols and procedures on the (1) definition of appropriate use of force and (2) appropriate circumstances for application of deadly use of force.
  • We support reform initiatives that seek to improve situational training, including training addressing:  
    • Mental health issues (i.e., among officers or the persons being responded to);
    • De-escalation techniques; 
    • Racism/internal bias; and,
    • best practices in policing initiatives from other demographically similar jurisdictions.
  • We support practices that seek to increase and improve upon community and police engagement and bridge building. 
  • We support reforms that consider the re-allocation of police budgets to different community needs—i.e., mental health training; community building exercises. 

 

WRITTEN ADVOCACY – READERS’ CORNER

 

Resources (Last updated Jan. 2021)

 

Data Research/Reports

Local Policing and Best Practices July 2020 report  [by the Montgomery County Council Office of Legislative Oversight]

 

Articles

Culture of school-based police program unfairly turns kids into criminals (bethesdamagazine.com)
https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/how-can-we-enhance-police-accountability-in-the-united-states/
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/arts/design/black-lives-matter-murals-new-york.htm

https://www.ypforprogress.org/we-demand-that-sros-be-removed-from-schools

Collaborative Advocacy

The Collaborative Advocacy group seeks to share knowledge and experiences and to collaborate with other groups in advocating for racial and social justice reform. 


We seek to become agents of change in a variety of collaborative ways. We plan to continue outreach and advocacy in a variety of forms and spaces using our faith as a guide as well as ideas from the social justice wheel reproduced below.


During the last quarter of 2020, the Youth Initiative members met internally and with outside parties to learn about constitutional principles on the use of force and its relationship to legislative and policy reform advocacy.  We met with Drug Enforcement Agency law enforcement officers; virtually attended webinars hosted by community organizations like Interfaith Works (which hosted the webinar on Reimagining Policing); collectively reviewed and discussed the work of Montgomery County Council representatives on police reform bills; virtually met with Oregon political and social justice advocate Sam Sachs of the No Hate Zone to discuss community/police bridge building in Portland, Oregon.  We hope to continue learning from and collaborating with Christian, Muslim and Jewish interfaith youth groups in Maryland, Young People for Progress, and other groups nationwide.  We invite you to join us!  


Please contact us at the following email with “Youth Initiative” in the subject line:   

stmattkmb@hotmail.com




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