On March 24, the Resilience Advocacy Project (RAP) will launch a new national initiative aimed at elevating the perspectives and voices of low-income minority youth in the growing national discourse around policing, race, and community. The initiative, entitled the Youth, Community and Police Initiative, will train teens in the country’s most highly policed communities to go out into their communities as peer legal rights educators around stop & frisk and other community policing laws and policies. Youth will also be trained to host community conversations with other stakeholders about strategies for improving youth/ police relations.
“Communities here in NYC and all over the country are exploding with tension around interactions between police and young people of color,” says Brooke Richie-Babbage, Executive Director of the Resilience Advocacy Project. “Media, politicians, police, parents, and educators are all participating in a public conversation about the complex relationship between race, communities and police – where is the voice of youth?”
RAP is collaborating with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, and with Columbia Law Schools’ Black Law Students Association and Latino Law Students Association to conduct workshops in middle- and high schools throughout the city. Workshops will help teens explore and articulate their perspectives on police, community and safety; learn about their rights around stop and frisk, and community policing; and build the skills to go back out into their communities to educate their friends about having safe interactions with police.
The initiative will launch at a community event on March 24th at Columbia Law School’s Case Lounge (Jerome Green Hall – Rm. 701). In attendance will be youth participants, law school and law firm partners, participating middle- and high schools, two Sergeants from the NYPD and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.
This summer, the initiative will expand to Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Detroit.
“My friends and I have a lot of thoughts about police in our neighborhoods, but no one asks us, not really,” says Samuel Pugo, a RAP youth leader and member of RAP’s Youth Advisory Council. “How can things get better if the people affected aren’t asked what they think?”