Lynching, Trauma, and Philando Castile

Valerie Castile (Philando’s mother) speaking outside the Ramsey County Courthouse in St Paul, MN after a not guilty verdict was reached in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the killing of Philando Castile last July. Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

Valerie Castile (Philando’s mother) speaking outside the Ramsey County Courthouse in St Paul, MN after a not guilty verdict was reached in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the killing of Philando Castile last July. Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull

Last week, the Equal Justice Initiative and Google launched Lynching in America, a powerful collection of personal stories and extensive research on more than 4,000 lynchings of black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries.

I was reading through the heartbreaking site on Friday when a news alert came on my phone: the police officer who killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Minnesota was acquitted of all charges. My heart stopped.

I wasn’t surprised, of course. Seventeen years working with both crime survivors and people who harm others has taught me that our justice system is ill-equipped to deliver real accountability or real healing, regardless of the outcome of any case. That’s why we need to imagine new systems that can deliver those things.

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When police and community come together | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Training Day, Trumplandia
While there are many efforts to train police officers, trainings often fail to deeply connect police to the community and their needs. EJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative is highlighted in this piece as doing just that: “The officers and community members sit together, assigned to small groups and tasked with creating poster boards they will present to the class. In magic marker, they write out recommendations for how different institutions — the police department, of course, but also social services and public schools and local leadership — can implement trauma-informed policies and practices.”

Violence victims get help to become own heroes, The Detroit News
A hospital-based trauma violence intervention program, Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday (DLIVE), believes the ideal time to approach violence victims about changing their lives is when they’re hospitalized, and thinking about how they got there. EJUSA has been working with DLIVE to grow their capacity so they can apply for federal funding to expand their program.

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Newark police/community trainings unique and forging common ground

Experiencing Trauma

The deep divide between police and communities of color in the United States can often seem intractable. But EJUSA has a long history of bridging divides that once seemed insurmountable. Our newest project to do this is the Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence, piloted last year in Newark, NJ. The project was profiled in a recent article, “Training Day,” a story on the role training can have in transforming police culture, anti-violence efforts, and the relationship between police departments and communities of color.

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The impact of police shootings on racial trauma | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.


The Racial Trauma of Police-Involved Shootings
, Psychology Benefits Society
Following the police shooting of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, many are grief-stricken and enraged in communities across the country. The impact of the deaths of unarmed black men and women raises larger questions about the impact of police shootings on racial trauma. This article links race-based trauma to experiences of racial injustice. These wounds persist and have lasting impact, which highlights the need for responses that promote individual and social healing for surviving families as well as the community.

‘Trauma Teams’ To Help Boston Residents In Higher Crime Areas Cope In Wake Of Violence, WBUR
A neighborhood health clinic in Boston is partnering with a community-based organization to help those suffering in the aftermath of homicides and other violence. They connect survivors and their families with trauma services to prevent future violence and expand access to healing support within the community.
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EJUSA helps lead discussions on violence and mass incarceration

Common Justice panelLast week EJUSA participated in two collaborations addressing violence and mass incarceration, both hosted by our friends at Common Justice.

The first was a panel of crime survivors at Common Justice’s conference, “Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration.” EJUSA was honored to get a shout on for our long history working with crime survivors during the conference’s opening remarks. Then our Trauma Advocacy Initiative Director, Fatimah Loren Muhammad, moderated the panel on survivor-centered responses to violence.

Survivor-leaders from across the country shared their experiences and perspectives on how the current reliance on incarceration fails crime survivors and their communities. Fatimah and the other speakers emphasized that effective responses to violence must focus on addressing trauma and helping survivors heal.

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EJUSA joins in discussion about race, police, and the community in Newark

YouTube thumbnailEJUSA’s Police/Community Initiative on Trauma Informed Responses to Violence has been bringing together police officers, residents, survivors of violence, justice-involved citizens, social workers, and faith leaders to discuss the trauma that exists on both sides of the relationship between the police and community. More and more members of the Newark community are eager to participate in the groundbreaking initiative, which will begin its fifth session of trainings next month.

Trauma Advocacy Initiative Director Fatimah Loren Muhammed recently joined the mayor of Newark as well as law enforcement leaders, clergy, academics, service providers, and other community leaders on a panel discussion organized by local Newark TV host Steve Adubato. The panel looked at the complex and sometimes confrontational relationship between the police and the minority community and ways to begin to move forward. Continue Reading →

Together, Newark police and community use understanding of trauma to call for system change

Newark Community Talk Back

Since last spring, more than 150 police officers, residents, survivors of violence, justice-involved citizens, social workers, and faith leaders came together last fall to participate in EJUSA’s inaugural Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence  in Newark, New Jersey. Through the initiative, participants learn about structural racism, trauma-informed practices, and work together to generate recommendations calling upon the police leaders and city/state government to make changes that will improve police/community relations and reduce violence and trauma.

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Reimagining Justice This Month | Feb 2017

Our current criminal justice system harms millions of people – from crime survivors to the justice-involved and their families.

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights communities that are organizing for effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

“When Killer and Victim’s Mother Meet, Paths From Grief, Fear and Guilt Emerge,” The New York Times
A restorative justice program in Kansas brings together people whose lives are inextricably linked violence and death. Through “victim-offender dialogues,” those who commit harm come face-to-face with those who were harmed.

Gun Violence Should Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis, Study Says,” NPR
The study helps show that “there must be a more coordinated approach to drive gun violence down, one that treats it as a public health epidemic and not just a policing problem.” Continue Reading →

Spring 2017 Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence – Newark, NJ

VIOLENCE word cloud graphicEJUSA is excited to be launching a second round of trainings in Newark, NJ to increase the capacity for police and the community to build mutual understanding of the other’s trauma and respond to trauma in the wake of violence. This spring, a team of facilitators will be leading trainings on trauma-informed responses to violence with the Newark Police Department and Newark community members: “Police/Community Initiative on Trauma-Informed Responses to Violence”

Read about our first series of trainings in Fall 2016 here.

The goal of this training is to understand the symptoms of community trauma and vicarious trauma as well as build necessary skills to address and problem-solve when trauma arises. These trainings will focus on community/police partnerships, and each group training will consist of the following:

  • 3 weekly sessions, 4 hours each* at Liberating Word Ministries, 126 Mt Pleasant Ave, North Newark, NJ 07104.
  • Participants will include 15-20 police officers and 15-20 community members.
  • Learn about trauma symptoms, ACES, historical trauma, and the cycle of violence.
  • Hands-on skills-building and problem solving activities that will be customized for trainees on the front lines addressing violence and trauma.
  • A focus on addressing special populations, including boys/men of color, LGBT communities, girls and women, etc.

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Newark event – Talk Back: Police/Community Trauma Trainings In Action

Join us for a Community Talk Back about the recent trauma trainings for Newark Police and Community.

Talk Back: Police/Community Trauma Trainings In Action
Wednesday, January 25th
5:30pm – 8:30pm
Refreshments at 5:30, prompt start at 6pm.
Located at the HUBB 135 Prince St., Newark between Court and W Kinney Streets (Lower Level)

Over 150 Newark residents, community leaders, and police officers participated in trainings to learn tactics that help both community and police break cycles of trauma and address the needs of survivors. Join us at the talk back to learn how the trauma trainings are impacting Newark and take action to break cycles of violence and trauma in the community.
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