Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

Attached is a photo of a flier posted on 11th and Harvard. Any idea what it’s about? The website is a Google doc with some resources and contact information, but it doesn’t say why you shouldn’t call the police…”

Ed. Note: Presumably it’s at least in part a response to cases of police brutality as well as an attempt to counter the high incarceration rate in the US.

The google doc is titled, Alternatives to Calling the Police: Washington DC
By Petworth Immigrants’ Rights & Police Accountability
Updated: 12.1.17

Steps to Ask Yourself

  1. Is this merely an inconvenience to me? > Can I put up with this and be okay?
  2. No, I need to respond > Can I handle this on my own, is this something I could try to talk-out with the person?
  3. No, I need back-up > Is there a friend, neighbor, or someone whom I could call to help me?
  4. No, I need a professional > Can we use mediation to talk through what’s happening or is there an emergency response hotline I could call?
  5. No >  If I call the police do I understand how involving the police could impact me and the other person? If police are present do you know what to do?

List of Mediation & Hotlines resources

  • Mediation: Community Mediation DC (240) 766-5311 M-F 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Mediation offers a chance to listen and to be heard, to build relationships, and to develop your own solutions to your own conflict. Mediation works because when people develop their own solutions, these solutions last longer.  Mediators are professionally trained volunteers who reflect the diversity of your community. Call or email [email protected] for more information.
  • Mental Health: Mobile Crisis Services (202) 673-9300 every day 9:00 AM – 1:00 AM Teams respond to adults throughout the District experiencing a psychiatric crisis. They provide crisis stabilization including dispensing medication, assessing for voluntary and involuntary hospitalizations, and link to other services such as crisis beds and substance abuse detoxification. The teams work with family members  to help with follow up.
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth: National Runaway Safeline 1 (800) RUNAWAY, text 66008 24/7 by telephone, text, or online chat for teens, young adults, parents, and guardians. Offers support, can mediate talks between family members and provide free bus tickets home. If you want to avoid mandatory reporting, avoid giving identifying information.
  • Victim Support:  DC Victim Hotline  (844) 443-5732 24/7 by telephone, text, or online chat. The hotline provides comprehensive information, resources and referrals in D.C. to connect victims of crime to free resources and  help them navigate the physical, financial, legal, and emotional repercussions of crime.
  • Sexual Assault: DC Rape Crisis Center Hotline  (800) 656-4673 24/7 The Center, committed to the belief that all forms of oppression are linked,  helps survivors and their families heal from the aftermath of sexual violence through crisis intervention, counseling, advocacy, community outreach, education, and legal and public policy initiatives. They will connect you to an advocate and other survivor resources.
  • Severe Heat or Cold: Hypothermia Shelter Hotline (800) 535-7252 24/7 They will dispatch a van equipped with water, blankets, gloves and jackets. When it is 32 degrees or below the van can take the person from the street to an emergency shelter or to a hospital if needed. When it is 95 degrees or above the van can transport the person to cooling centers. Transportation is always voluntary.

Opportunities to Get Involved Building Alternative Structures to Police in DC:

  • Know your neighborhood: meet your neighbors: learn their names, who they are, their contact information, say hello when you walk by, invest in relationships with them.
  • Learn bystander intervention, de-escalation, and street harassment responses by getting a group of friends, neighbors, or colleagues together and scheduling a training with the Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). CASS is a local organization that mobilizes the community to end public sexual harassment and assault in the DC.
  • Volunteer with Community Mediation D.C. (see other side)
  • Organize a neighborhood group. For example there is a group working on Petworth neighborhood  immigrants’ rights and police accountability through know your rights trainings, door knocking, and community education. Contact [email protected] to join.  Takoma Park, MD also has a neighborhood assembly and there are many more
  • Join Stop Police Terror Project DC : SPTP works to oppose police abuses and to build community-led peacekeeping efforts to empower oppressed communities to deal with their own security concerns in Washington DC. SPTP has many campaigns including one to support DC’s Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act
  • Join Showing Up for Racial Justice DC – Policing:  SURJ-DC-Policing organizes white people around racial justice and police abuse in the District. Get involved by joining the e-list [email protected], hosting political education house parties, facilitating education events, and fundraising for their partner community organizations.

Alternative Structures We Can Build:

  • Incite! is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue, and grassroots organizing. Stop Law Enforcement Toolkit and Community Accountability Best Practices
  • Cure Violence, based in Chicago, is an evidence-based public health approach to reducing shootings and killings. They use trained street violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education campaigns, and community mobilization to counter  the violence epidemic. Note: this program is now state-sponsored, which some people feel undermines its efficacy and sustainability.

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