Gun purchases accelerated in the US during 2020-2021. More than 5 million adults became first-time gun owners between January 2020 and April 2021.
At least 2/3 of U.S. high school students attend a school with a police officer to provide safety, and that proportion is higher for students of color. Schools with police officers are more likely to refer children to law enforcement.
GPI Ranking of Peaceful Countries: #122 out of 163
The United States finds itself at a time of division and upheaval: The pandemic affected almost every sector of daily life, leaving death and social cleavages in its wake. A renewed push for justice following the murder of George Floyd. Record gun sales. An increase in hate groups and hate crimes against particular racial, ethnic, and gender groups.
But with this upheaval, we also see more and more people listening to those who have been calling for a reimagining of safety and security—for an end to the structural violence so embedded in the U.S. that it has in turn generated and condoned patterns of direct violence, whether from state actors or between communities.
With this awakening, there is an increased need and an increased interest in unarmed civilian protection in schools, in civic spaces, and in neighborhoods.
Grounded in the strengths and needs of local community partners, NP is building relationships with community members, leaders, and organizations to identify gaps and approach safety and securityfrom a holistic perspective. Our work is informed by understanding what communities need to feel safe and secure—to feel affirmed and a sense of belonging— which includes and goes beyond physical safety.
Providing direct protection: Not only does there need to be a systemic and cultural uprooting of the violence that permeates so much of U.S. society, but in there is also an immediate need for direct civilian protection at certain flashpoints for violence, from neighborhood events to community actions). NP continues to train new staff and volunteers to deescalate conflicts without weapons, liaise between groups, accompany vulnerable communities, and more.
Strengthening community protection capacities:We believe communities know best how to protect themselves, and have the right to exercise protection in the way that best suits them. We provide ongoing training, mentoring and support to communities who have invited us to support their safety work. See here for more about our work with community groups in the Twin Cities, MN andNew York City, NY. Many other organizations have requested our assistance with ongoing trainings and mentoring. We are fielding further requests here.
Reimagining school safety:After the Minneapolis School Board voted to end their contract with Minneapolis Police to provide security as schools,NP collaborated with Minneapolis Public Schools to train and mentor unarmed school safety specialists. Now, NP is partnering with the school district to develop a Student Peace Advisory Group. The students will take the lead in developing new school safety initiatives and co-create trainings and engagement strategies to foster the safety and belonging of all. School districts around the country have expressed interest in this model of holistic school safety and many have already replicated this work or will be doing so in the future.
In cities around the country, protesters and civilians have come together to de-escalate force by federal agents and armed groups, protect neighborhoods and local businesses, call for accountability in municipal budgeting and policing, and re-envision community safety. Yet, communities often grapple with what it means to maintain their commitments to less reliance on law enforcement response to safety concerns that can be resolved without use of force or threat of force.
In this context, Nonviolent Peaceforcewill continue to explore collaborations with community partners to open dialogue, maintain space for civic engagement and protest, as well as equip students, community members, and safety professionals alike with actionable frameworks and skills in both violence prevention and nonviolent resolution of conflict.
"While we are reimagining and co-creating a safer and more just world, we want to have the tools to navigate the current one."
- Kalaya'an Mendoza
In 2020 and 2021:
Minneapolis Public Schools school safety specialists trained in unarmed civilian protection to provide school security, rather than armed police officers.
individuals across the US trained in situation awareness, de-escalation, and upstander intervention.
volunteers in the Twin Cities trained in unarmed civilian protection in 2021.