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NACRJ 2017: Moving RJ from Margins to Center

Last month, the NCDD team had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 6th Annual National Conference on Community and Restorative Justice in downtown Oakland, CA. The conference was hosted by the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ) and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY). A whopping 1,300 attendees gathered for the event – which was almost double the attendance from their 2015 conference!

The theme, “Moving Restorative Justice from Margins to Center: We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” set a powerful energy that carried through the three days we attended. There were three pre-conference training sessions held the day before on June 15th to deepen experience around implementing RJ in schools, utilizing an equity lens for RJ practice, and holistic health for RJ practitioners. The conference included beautiful cultural performances, powerful keynote speakers and plenary sessions, almost 300 presentations, an awards ceremony, and even a concert with Dead Prez.

NCDD staff Courtney, Roshan, and I presented a session on Healing Racial Divides and Addressing Community-Police Relations through Dialogue & Deliberation. In the session, we shared about the NCDD network and the important work being done around bridging racial and community-police divides. Since we were at a conference with RJ practitioners and enthusiasts, we also wanted to tap the knowledge that was in the room. We asked session participants what advice they had to offer people wanting to do police-community and cross-race dialogues. We heard valuable feedback regarding participation, ways to engage, and best practices to consider. Below are some of the large group report-outs:

  • Meet people where they are at, and be authentic. When people are in conflict or upset with you (as law enforcement), listen to what they have to say without your particular lens, and respect them for that without your personal opinion or bias, or institutional opinion or bias.
  • How do we get police to work with us? Form better relationships – engage with schools, young people, community orgs, etc.
  • There is a difference between human-to-human interaction, and police-to-community dialogue where officers can hold humility in the room.
  • There needs to be coordinated community responses – how to engage police, build policies, police being approachable and part of the community, make connections, etc.

There’s more detailed information that participants shared us and we’ve uploaded these notes gathered during the NCDD session, which can be found at https://tinyurl.com/ncddnacrj.

For more information on the overall conference, keep your eye on the NACRJ’s site here for recordings, interviews, and photos. You can also check out the hashtag #NACRJ2017 on Twitter for more photos, quotes, and participant experiences!

Planning for the 7th Annual NACRJ Conference is already underway! Save the date for the next conference in Denver, CO – June 2019!

Keiva Hummel
Keiva Hummel serves as NCDD’s Communications Coordinator. She graduated cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.A. in Communication Studies, Minor in Global Peace, Human Rights and Justice Studies, and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Studies.

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