Community Activists Meet to Address Historical Trauma and Healing Methods

July 10, 2018 10:44 PM

Recent events involving an officer-involved shooting death of a Minneapolis resident along with the reported use of the sedative, ketamine, to subdue citizens are two cases that have damaged relationships between Minneapolis police and the community it serves. 

But the trauma goes back even further. Generations, in fact. 


RELATED: Thurman Blevins Coverage

That's why local activists hosted a 'community conversation' at the Urban League in North Minneapolis Tuesday. It's actually the third such meeting. The first was held months before the ketamine crisis and the death of 31-year-old Thurman Blevins at the end of June, which intensified suspicions of black and native populations toward law enforcement. 

Deputy Chief Art Knight, with the Minneapolis Police Department, spoke to the crowd Tuesday.

"We shouldn't always wait for tragedy to happen for us to come out and talk with folks," Knight said. "We're going to have critical incidents and we should have a relationship with folks when those things happen so they understand what happened."

After the officer-involved shooting that killed Jamar Clark, Minneapolis leaders applied for and won a $5 million federal grant to promote resilience, equity and rebuild trust. 

Joy Marsh Stephens is the city's Race and Equity Manager and oversees that program called ReCast Minneapolis.

"We want to do more work to educate the community around trauma," Stephens said. "How do we gain knowledge and skills to identify trauma and address it, and then most importantly how do we work together based on stronger relationships to shift systems and change policy?"

The grant dollars are meant to reimburse the 'healers and the treaters,' meaning licensed counselors, childcare providers, trauma-informed yoga teachers, meditation circles and cultural therapists to help folks process pain and improve their behavioral health.  

RELATED: Leak of Ketamine Draft Report Called 'Irresponsible' by Chairwoman of Minneapolis Review Commission 

The conversation was two-way and included a question and answer session. Paul Slack is a Northside Pastor and talked to the panel Tuesday. 

"We have to stop calling police heroes, it's your job you signed up for it," Slack said. "Calling police a hero is polarizing, the investigation of Blevins isn't done and his family has even buried him yet. We need more than police, we need community centers, we need programs for our children, movie theaters, roller rinks--we need that kind of stuff."

Stephens said a key part of ReCast Minneapolis is its community decision making. Citizens were told they could attend any one of three upcoming events and vote on how they think the grant money should be spent.  


Beth McDonough

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