COMMUNITY SAFETY and TRANSFORMATIVE JUSTICE

Framework

No matter what we look like or where we live, we all want our families to be whole and our communities to be vibrant. We want to know we can make it home to our families at the end of the day. The truth is, we keep us safe. We are finding new ways to take care of one another and hold each other accountable all the time. Many of these practices are rooted and have been developed in communities that have never been able to rely on policing for safety. 

Our communities will truly be safe when everyone has their basic human needs provided for, including housing, food, health care, income and education. An increasingly militarized police presence leads to racial profiling, harassment and further incarceration of Black and brown people, and more harmful policing. We need to stand in solidarity across communities to protect each other, including our elder Asian community members and undocumented immigrants. The pathway to prevent crime lies in funding the health and wellbeing of everybody in the Bay Area, regardless of immigration status, past record, etc. Across the political spectrum, people agree that sending sworn officers to solve so many of society’s problems—like traffic stops, mental health crises, or homelessness complaints—is expensive, inefficient, and ineffective.

It’s time to shift money from policing to community. It’s time to fund the alternatives, like restorative justice in schools and harm reduction — things that actually prevent crime rather than respond to it after the fact. It is time to make the Bay Area a sanctuary region for undocumented immigrants and also other marginalized communities, including Black communities, that have been systematically attacked by government policies and practices, from discrimination and criminalization to incarceration and deportation. 

Lead Organizations

Orange denotes Bay Rising member organizations. Green denotes partner organizations. Click on the circles to visit each organization’s website.

Solutions
People attach messages to a “wish tree” at a “Love Your People, Heal Our Communities” event after a rash of violence against Asians in early 2021. These events were supported by Bay Rising and organized by Bay Rising members Chinese Progressive Association and Asian Pacific Environmental Network, among others.
  • Provide education, healing, prevention, and survivor support after cross-racial violence
    • Fueled by Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric, violence against our Asian community members has seen a sharp increase here in the Bay Area and across the country. At the urging of community organizers including Bay Rising member Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), cities have responded by funding violence prevention programs, including a Community Ambassador program in Oakland, where trained staff will prevent crime, provide a sense of security, and promote neighborhood health. It’s important for staff and leaders from existing community organizations that have long-standing relationships within local neighborhoods to provide services where possible. Promoting neighborhood health and safety should also include community-building and neighborhood-level resource wayfinding, as well as addressing homelessness, mental health issues, illegal dumping and more.
      • SF Chronicle: “Oakland’s Chinatown welcomes community ambassadors to prevent violence”
        • The ambassador program described in the Chronicle story was a project of Chinatown Improvement Initiative back in 2017, then became a joint project between the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, Asian Health Services, and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation. As of 2021, Family Bridges houses the program.
        • The city also made budget allocations specifically for the Chinatown and Eastlake neighborhoods for violence prevention. Oakland family service center Trybe was able to utilize these funds for their community ambassador program, which is now connected to the program described in the Chronicle story.
        • Asian Health Services now has a mobile healing clinic that serves victims of hate crimes and expands resources to those who have been impacted by crime directly or indirectly (people who are living in increased fear).
        • Bay Rising member Asian Pacific Environmental Network partnered with the Korean Community Center of the East Bay for a short period to run healing circles with Chinese elders to process news of violence as well as learn safety practices and self-defense techniques.
      • Policy Details: City of Oakland: District 2 Neighborhood Wins: In Chinatown, Eastlake, Grand Lake & San Antonio (​on funding for the ambassador programs)
    • In San Francisco, the Coalition for Community Safety and Justice (including Bay Rising member Chinese Progressive Association) won initial investments from the City and County of San Francisco in 2021 to mitigate violence and hate across all communities of color. As of December 2021, the coalition has already:
      • Reached nearly 17,000 people
      • Engaged 15+ partner organizations and agencies
      • Run programs in 7 languages
      • Conducted a public safety needs and asset assessment of Asian and Pacific Islander members
      • Created a victim and survivor support fund to offer immediate financial assistance to vulnerable community members, raising nearly $45,000
      • Provided services to 40+ people
      • Managed community outreach programs across six SF neighborhoods (Chinatown, SOMA, Clement, Tenderloin, San Bruno, Leland)
      • Held 12 intergenerational listening sessions about accountability, safety, and race across multiple organizations, reaching 140 individuals
      • Led a series of rapid response events and built communications infrastructure to respond to violence with a focus on cross-racial solidarity, healing, and education.
Volunteers canvassing with SF Rising in November 2021.

KQED: “In Alameda County, a New Coalition Aims to Counter Deportations”

TAKE ACTION

District attorneys (DAs) in California have tremendous power to impact the lives of millions of people, their families, and entire communities. If someone is accused of committing a crime, it is not the police but the DA who has the sole power to decide whether to file criminal charges and the severity of those charges. They alone decide who is deserving of a jail or prison sentence and who to instead route into a diversion program to help rebuild their life, or have charges dismissed. Get involved to learn more about the role of the District Attorney in your county.

>> Sign up for the Alameda County District Attorney Candidate Forum on September 29 at 6:30pm

TAKE ACTION

ORGANIZING STORY

In Oakland, while there had long been a coalition of labor and community groups (most recently called the ReFund coalition) that worked together around budget cycles to advocate for bigger investments in community resources, from libraries to local jobs to streetlamps, the Anti Police-Terror Project launched a campaign calling to shift money from the Oakland Police Department and to violence prevention in 2016. The campaign has since evolved into a coalition of 13 people-of-color-led grassroots organizations with decades-long roots in Oakland and tens of thousands of active members among them.

This demand to defund policing and invest in the community deepened during the nationwide uprisings during the summer of 2020 when, across the globe, tens of thousands of people came together to demand an end to state terror and violence. The City of Oakland created the Oakland Reimagining Public Safety Task Force in direct response to significant local demand to redirect monies from the Oakland Police Department to programs, support services, and resources that take a holistic view of public safety and focus on addressing the root causes of so-called “crime” rather than relying on militarized policing and a violent and cyclical carceral state.

In June of 2021, Oakland reallocated $18M to fund violence prevention rather than the mayor’s proposed two additional police academies. Other major shifts in Oakland’s budget included prioritizing funding for jobs, housing, community services, and arts & culture. Importantly, this budget includes an audit of the police department.

Towards the end of 2021, using an increase in violent crimes as justification, Oakland City Council shifted budget priorities and gave money back to the police academies. As with any city budget allocations, local leaders continue to watch and advocate for community demands. The work to shift funding will be a long-term effort, and we need to give the community services we’ve started to invest in time to work. 

“We need to get to the gun before the bullet flies, not watch yet another mother put her child in the ground. We need to REfund. REstore. And REimagine.” – @CatsCommentary

Full quote: “Police are violence responders, not violence interrupters. We need to invest in root-cause, preventive strategies. We need to get to the gun before the bullet flies, not watch yet another mother put her child in the ground. We need to REfund. REstore. And REimagine.” – Cat Brooks, director of the Anti Police-Terror Project



Photo credits, top to bottom: April Martin Kofi / courtesy of Black Organizing Project, Brooke Anderson / courtesy of Anti Police-Terror Project, courtesy of Chinese Progressive Association, Adriana Oyarzun Photography / courtesy of SF Rising.