Organizers defend Richmond forum that featured anti-police remarks


Organizers of a community forum held at the Catholic Charities of the East Bay last week are defending criticism over anti-police remarks made by a panelist who advised residents to avoid calling police or 911 during an emergency. Her presentation was filmed and posted on social media, and also by the Standard.

In response to the criticism, a statement was released Monday on behalf of the groups credited for organizing the event, including the RYSE Center, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Healthy Richmond, Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), Communities for a Better Environment and Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN).

Statement in response to efforts to discredit community-led forum on collective defense against attacks on individuals and communities in Richmond.

The Love & Rage in Action Series is designed to support youth and young adults, their families, and our network of community partners in organizing to care for and defend ourselves and each other. We came together to respond to anticipated and rapidly escalating attacks, targeting and repressing of people, communities, organizations and movements by the new federal administration and supporters of hate they have emboldened. To date, we’ve held community forums covering the topics of health care, immigration, civil rights, education and the environment. The direction of the series is guided by the communities we serve, who look to us for immediate and ongoing support and resources.

The Love & Rage Community Forum held last week was a powerful event focused on community self-sufficiency, determination, love and self-defense. The forum touched on multiple approaches to community and individual self-defense, bystander intervention and de-escalation, rapid response, and non-criminalizing emergency response. This was a learning space for our organizations and the larger community, at which we spent the majority of the evening on how we can be more engaged bystanders and intervene in hate crimes or acts of intimidation or violence. The goal was to introduce participants to a diverse range of strategies and those who attended left inspired to identify which would work best for Richmond in effort to support and protect ourselves and each other.

Community-based emergency response is about creating a myriad of options for community to access and employ, including relying on neighbors and community for help, as well as emergency services. We need both emergency services and emergency preparedness training. Community-based emergency response provides access to medical and mental health care and emergency and crisis support without fear of police violence or threat of incarceration.

We recognize that the Richmond Police Department has worked hard to improve community relations and implement community policing approaches. The reality remains that many people in our community still have negative experiences and associations with police encounters, and that needs to be addressed. All of the organizations that were part of putting on the event remain committed to ensuring that we partner with RPD in ways that are requested by our members and the communities we serve toward reducing both harm and criminalization.

Now, more than ever, we must build bridges in order to protect and defend each other as well as our movements for justice, dignity, human rights, civil liberties and preservation of life and the planet. As conveners of the Love and Rage in Action Series, we will continue to stand together, in unity, to hold space and provide workshops, clinics, resources that prepare, respond, and build culturally-relevant and just community driven strategies to meet the needs of our community.

In Unity-

RYSE Center

Richmond Progressive Alliance

Healthy Richmond

Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO)

Communities for a Better Environment

Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)