Imagining and creating creating community safety
What if there were an alternative to calling the police? What if that alternative was rooted in transformative and disability justice values and principles? What if responders were grounded in an ethic of care that is non-punitive and healing-centered?
This alternative sounded a bit out of reach a few years ago, but now it is very much on its way. Envisioned by the community – from the ground up – we are reimagining public safety that centers liberation, dignity, and self-determination of those who are most vulnerable to experiencing violence in the community.
HEART responds proactively and directly to community needs to prevent physical, emotional and verbal harms, and is designed to explicitly serve those who are un- and under-served by existing public safety systems.
Rooted in transformative justice and disability justice values and principles, the HEART program is a holistic model and operates under non-hierarchical structures. In all areas of work, Cambridge HEART practitioners and responders will be grounded in an ethic of care that is non-punitive and healing-centered.
We’ve all heard stories of how the police have failed communities, but how about a model that builds community in times of crisis instead of creating more trauma.
Here’s our vision for HEART in action:
- There was a young Black man in distress outside a building in July 2020 (CBS Boston). The police were called because no one knew what to do or how to help him. It turns out the young man’s mother suddenly passed away in that building while visiting a friend. The police handcuffed him to a fence, and he spent hours in a heightened state. This would be a call for HEART instead.
- When it’s cold or wet, unhoused people seek shelter in the ATMs. After an hour, it trips an alarm connected to the police. The police are the ones forced to remove the person, this is a call that HEART might answer instead. We learned about this during an informal interview with a police officer in Cambridge who was frustrated at not having better solutions.
- There was a woman who was the victim of coercive and financial domestic violence. She was genuinely contemplating suicide because she didn’t know how she was going to pay the bills. She didn’t know that there are services, like the Margaret Fuller House, that help people pay their arrears. We heard this story and supported her with mutual aid and connected her to long-term services.
Together, we’re building safety and community rooted in compassion and care. These are just a few of the many ways HEART can and will be implemented in the community. Please join us!