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Victoria Board Member and Staff Discuss Community-Based Public Safety with Newark Mayor and Equal Justice USA

Victoria  Board Member and Staff Discuss Community-Based Public Safety with Newark Mayor and Equal Justice USA Photo credit - Tom Weidman, Tap into Newark

In June, one of Victoria Foundation's newest board members, Aqeela Sherrills, was featured on a panel about Newark's focus on community-based public safety, joining Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Equal Justice USA's Jamila Hodge.

"Our belief is that if we train residents to stand together in conflict resolution, mediation, and de-escalation strategies, those who are closest in proximity to the nature of the violence have to be equipped with the skills, the tools, and resources to do the intervention, prevention, and the treatment." – Aqeela Sherrills, Victoria Foundation Trustee

Aqeela co-created, directed, and now chairs the board of the Newark Community Street Team, a national model for community-based public safety that deploys outreach workers to intervene and de-escalate violence through trauma-informed support. The panel event was hosted in conjunction with the release of a recent report, "The Future of Public Safety: Exploring the Power and Possibility of Newark's Reimagined Public Safety Ecosystem. The report showcased Newark's progress in overcoming violence by taking a public health approach, understanding how people are "stuck with trauma," and addressing root causes of repetitive harm. This emphasis on root causes aligns with Victoria Foundation's new strategic framework, which attempts to address the root causes of generational poverty in Newark by driving resources to Black and Brown-led work on economic justice, community power, and youth self-determination.

"We heard today that safety is not just the absence of violence, but is the presence of thriving. If we see violence as a public health issue, then poverty and economic injustice are acts of public violence. We need to think about healing and repair work in an economic sphere, through resource redistribution in Newark neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment and wealth extraction." – Stephanie Greenwood, Senior Strategy Officer for Economic Justice

Senior Strategy Officer Stephanie Greenwood joined Eddie Bocanegra, Senior Advisor, Community Violence Intervention office at the US Department of Justice; Lakeesha Eure, Director, Newark Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery; and Walter Katz, Vice President of Criminal Justice, Arnold Ventures on a panel facilitated by Pat Clark, Chief Program Director, Fund for Nonviolence to discuss funding for community-based public safety work. She shared the story of Victoria Foundation's shift from funding programs that focused on enforcement against repeat offenders towards a community-based approach that emphasized healing and de-escalation.

Read more and watch the discussions

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Tuesday, 04 October 2022

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