I was invited to lead a community discussion about how to heal from the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the police. We reviewed how social traumas like the on-going stories about police shootings can impact our way of thinking and lead to self-protective yet reactive grief and rage and how the only chance we have of turning this into a positive is to remember what we value and want in our society--what Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, called, "protesting with a purpose." She attended the event by the way (she's cool).
More than 60 community leaders, members and police officers attended the event. One of the highlights for me was when we were discussing how to affect change and all of the suggestions were for large sweeping policy changes, and I suggested that we start small and focus on overcoming the loss of dignified humanity that is happening between police and black communities by maybe starting with the vision of young black men introducing themselves to community officers saying something like, "hi, I'm, so and so. I go to high school. I want to be a XX. Thank you for committing your life to serving and protecting our community." And of course, community officers could do something similar in return. The community police in the crowd were nodding vigorously. After the event, one of the leaders at Richmond University Medical Center said he loved the idea and was going to host a series of such events throughout Staten Island. Let's hope and pray that it happens and it works, even just a little bit.
NY1 covered the event (see video).