The need for protection in the United States
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.
NP’s work in the United States
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 security from 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.
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.
The future of NP's work in the United States
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, NP will 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.
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Snapshots of Peace
Providing Protection at Polls During the U.S. 2020 Elections
In the weeks leading up to the 2020 elections, NP trained 100 poll captains in de-escalation, nonviolence, and unarmed civilian protection. On November 3, 250+ volunteers who mobilized across the Twin Cities, MN to have a proactive and de-escalatory presence and prevent harm or threat of harm to voters and ensure that everyone had the right to vote free from intimidation and harassment.
The Brooklyn Liberation March: Youth and Gender-Based Unarmed Civilian Protection in New York City
In June 2021, NP Staff ran a safety team of more than 100 volunteers for the Brooklyn Liberation Action to #ProtectTransYouth. Over a period of 9 hours, the team provided unarmed civilian protection for thousands, with a special focus on the Black Trans youth at the event.
Dreaming and Acting Together: Building Real Community Safety in Minneapolis
Reimagining community safety and security is no small task. That’s why NP in the US teams up with local organizations and community members who are knowledgeable of their community's challenges and modeling unarmed approaches at events and gatherings.