Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Violence ends in death. Current Philadelphia and other events reported to 911 end in death. October 2020



Why healing, not policing, can address partner violence, rural America becomes a red zone, and the power of arts and culture to steer action now, in this week’s Covid, Race, and the Revolution.

Issue No 28. October 28, 2020

Healing, not Policing: A Transformative Approach to Intimate Partner Violence

By Marc Philpart

Covid-19 continues to reveal and compound the challenges families face. Among them is domestic violence, which escalated under the economic and emotional stresses of the pandemic.

Families of color are more likely to face economic instability during the Covid crisis, with a loss of income intensifying worries about paying rent and putting food on the table. With many childcare facilities and schools closed, parents are grappling with how to care for and supervise the online education of their children. And all of this is happening at a time when public health authorities are urging everyone to limit their activities outside the home to reduce the risk of infection.

Across the nation, domestic violence calls for help are surging in what the New England Journal of Medicine calls “a pandemic within a pandemic.” But tragically, the nation’s responses rely almost exclusively on police and punishment, which does nothing to address the root causes of violence or foster healing, accountability for harm, and safety. In fact, by relying on state violence as our primary response to partner violence, we reinforce patriarchal norms and inherently racist institutions that produce violence, while denying communities billions of dollars in funding needed to create real safety.

That’s why we must reimagine the nation’s response to domestic violence toward a model rooted in public health and racial equity, one that listens to the voices of people who have been harmed and provides support for all who are impacted — survivors, children who have been exposed to violence, and people who have caused harm.

Our response also must acknowledge that family violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum. From the individual causing harm to the family, faith institutions and communities, to public institutions, patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism — all these actors and systems play a role and should be examined and accounted for in a strategy to end violence. As a country founded upon white supremacy, genocide, slavery, imperialism, and segregation, we must also account for the violence that was and is used to construct this nation and understand how that violence shapes our lives.

The first step toward shifting our approach is to stop the overreliance on police as first responders to family violence. Strong relationships are the key to ending violence in relationships and in our communities. By investing in resources that facilitate relationship building and healing, we can get families the help they need before violence occurs, create alternative approaches to intervention, and support people who have caused harm — who are often survivors themselves — to end cycles of violence.

Rather than relying on a badge and a gun or the criminal-legal system, these approaches should be grounded in community. When police are called, they prioritize making arrests and reports that lead to family entanglement with the criminal-legal and child welfare systems. Many survivors don’t trust police, which is why almost half of intimate partner violence went unreported to law enforcement from 2006 to 2015. And for survivors who do call the police, about 75 percent found their involvement to be unhelpful or left them less safe. The lived experience and data are clear: families need better options.

“Police don’t always treat victims with respect,” said California Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, who has told her personal story of surviving an unhealthy relationship in advocating for Assembly Bill 2054, the #CRISESAct. This legislation, which was vetoed by Governor Newsom, would have created community-based, police-free responses for people who are experiencing emergencies (including partner violence, mental health crises, houselessness) and need care, not punishment.

Kamlager shared, “The bill forces us to re-engage in real, non-carceral solutions to many of the social implications of poverty and sickness that we have ignored. A good friend of mine declared that AB 2054 is a love letter to the possibility of what transformative public safety can look like, trusting that communities know how to self-police and hold themselves accountable.”

Additionally, if people who report the violence are also those who are more likely to be targets of police violence, they are more easily arrested and recriminalized, as Survived and Punished highlights in its new #DefundPrisonsDefendSurvivors campaign. This happens most often to those who are Black, undocumented, poor, transgender, queer, disabled, of color, and sex workers.

Immigrant families are reluctant to report domestic violence to police because they fear it will lead to deportation. In Los Angeles, the police chief suggested that a climate of fear caused by the federal government’s inhumane immigration policies led to significant drops in the number of Latinx people reporting domestic violence.

Instead of continuing to spend tax dollars on criminal-legal system responses to domestic violence, the nation should invest in community-based responses that support all people affected by violence. These support services should be culturally rooted, grounded in an understanding of gender and state violence, focused on prevention and intervention, and made available to all people, not just those in an immediate crisis. This approach would address racial inequities in access to supportive services and create the conditions required for everyone to be safe.

We have good models to build on. For example, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, California, leads the Stockton Trauma Recovery Center, which supports the healing of entire families in a manner that acknowledges the burdens of racial and social injustice that families of color have carried for generations.

Through Healing Together, a campaign led by PolicyLink and the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, more than 80 organizations have come together to end partner violence by engaging men, and people of all genders, to shift system responses toward community-based healing and equity, and away from the punishment system.

And philanthropic allies such as the Blue Shield of California Foundation are supporting innovative thinking to address domestic violence. More funders concerned with health and wellness should consider joining them to build momentum for addressing these important needs.

This October, millions of advocates and survivors are acknowledging Domestic Violence Awareness Month against the backdrop of Covid-19. The community, health, and social service resources we need for healing and relationship building should be a cornerstone of the nation’s Covid response and its approach to ending family violence. When our relationships are safe and healthy, so are our communities.

Marc Philpart is a Managing Director at PolicyLink. 

Highlights from the News, Analysis, and Commentary

Making A Just Economy

In the debut episode of #Unfinished Live, a new online show, Angela Glover Blackwell joins a discussion on what makes a just economy. You can tune in here and get the schedule for future episodes on democracy and voice, technology and humanity, and culture and change.

Author Jim Tankersley tells the podcast Pitchfork Economics that inclusion is the key to rebuilding the economy and the middle class. "What history shows us is that the American economy grows and thrives when women and men of color and immigrants are given more opportunity — when we reduce discrimination and give them more pathways to contribute their talents to our economy."

Arts and Culture Drive Action

“Resist Covid / Take 6!,” a sprawling “social impact” installation conceived by artist Carrie Mae Weems, uses her iconic photography to educate communities of color about the disparate impact of Covid, highlight preventive measures, dispel myths, and celebrate essential workers. The project originated in Syracuse and has expanded to 10 other cities, including Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Durham, and most recently, New York. You can read about it in the online arts magazine Hyperallergic and check out this 2-minute video of the project taking shape in Philadelphia.

Please share with your networks, send your ideas and feedback, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram using hashtag #COVIDandRace.

We hope you find the COVID-19 and Race Series an important tool for keeping up with news about the virus and its impact on communities we serve. As a nonprofit organization, PolicyLink is honored to provide resources to support the needs of our nation's 100 million economically insecure individuals. Generous partners like you make our work possible.


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