Sunday, June 28, 2020

We Keep Each Other Safe: A Community Forum to Organize Alternatives to Policing on Algonquin Territory (Ottawa)


Sunday, June 28, 2020
3:00pm - 6:00pm

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This online community forum features three panels that prioritize the voices of people that are most often targeted by police, and other forms of state violence and oppression, who will discuss how to build safe communities on Algonquin Territory / in Ottawa through alternatives to policing. The event will begin with an opening ceremony and land acknowledgement by Michel J. Penney (Yellow Quill reserve of the Saulteaux Nation), along with welcoming remarks by Souheil Benslimane (Criminalization and Punishment Education Project). Speakers include: Andi Vicente (Ottawa Sanctuary City Network / Anakbayan Ottawa); Carling Miller (Kind Space); Gabrielle Fayant (Assembly of Se7en Generations – A7G); Oli Leblanc; Sabrina Kayed (Planned Parenthood); Laelem Abebe (Produced by Youth); Vanessa Dormain (Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition); Terhas Ghebretcle; Roksana H.; Mumina Egal (Herongate Tenant Coalition / Collective Justice Centre); Leah Bell (Overdose Prevention Ottawa / POWER); Jackie Stol (Anakbayan Canada); Sakinna Gairey (Black Like Me); and Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas (FFF / Extinction Rebellion / Sandy Hill Housing Co-op / Eagle and Condor Collective / Artists with No Borders / OPIRG). Recordings from prison by Jason and Shane Maurice Chartrand will also be shared. The panels will be moderated by Ayan Tani (Criminalization and Punishment Education Project / Black Thots), Muna Mohamed and Mia Beijer (Future Rising Ottawa), and Morissa Ellis (AIDS Committee of Ottawa).

This online community forum will explore how we can keep each other safe through community-led alternatives to policing. Throughout the event, participants will engage with various questions, including:

  • How do you define safety, safe communities, and safe spaces? 
  • What makes you unsafe? 
  • What does a world without police mean to you? 
  • What would community-led alternatives to policing need to include in order to promote accountability, effectively meet the needs of community members, and transform relationships and structures of power to enhance our collective well-being and safety? 
  • How can we centre racial, economic, gender, sexual, disability, environmental and other forms of social justice, along with the principles of universal access, in these community-led alternatives? 
  • What do we need to consider when we are engaging volunteers and participants that would serve as responders to calls for support? 
  • What kind of training should we provide to volunteers? 
  • What trusted community organizations can support this training? 
  • How can we prioritize the safety and well-being of people participating in community-led alternatives to policing? 
  • What do we need to consider when bringing together a group of people responsible for creating alternatives to policing? 
  • Who needs to be reflected in the group of people working on creating these alternatives? 
  • How should this group of people make decisions and engage the public? 
  • How do we make sure these alternatives are sustainable?

Recent murders of Black and Indigenous people have left so many of us in a state of mourning and rage. Many of us are looking for ways to protect and support one another beyond this moment. The last few weeks are fueling and giving urgency to the longstanding call to defund and abolish police who in Ottawa receive $358 million in funding, which is more than the budget allocated to transportation, libraries, and public health combined ($316 million). These conversations have led to countless discussions between friends and family about the need for a community-led alternative to policing. While these struggles and discussions are not new, we can use this moment to move forward and build an abolitionist movement that protects us all and creates the communities of care in which safety is not based on state violence or the threat of state violence. No one should be in a position where they are forced to call the police to protect their loved ones when encounters with police officers are harmful and fatal in many cases. We cannot keep paying for a militarized force that targets, harms, injures, and kills the people we care for.

* click here *

#NOPE / No Ottawa Police Expansion
#YES / Yes to Equality and Supports

Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
Carceral Studies Research Collective

Souheil Benslimane
Member, Criminalization and Punishment Education Project
819-592-6469 /

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