Safety Beyond Policing

In Minneapolis the campaign to defund the police was one in which that was met with praise from long term community organizers and activists who have been continuously working towards a world without police but this campaign was also met with skepticism from some community members and a plethora of elected officials at all levels due to the fact that violent crime rates were surging to levels that we have not seen since Minneapolis was named “Murderapolis” by time magazine in 1999. The calls to simultaneously slash MPD’s budget while increasing police efforts to reign in violent crime seemed to clearly combat each other.

As a movement we must be clear internally that to end the police state as well as build a base of new folks to lead our movement into the future we must build a “Big Tent” meaning we must bridge the ideological divide by utilizing broad organizing tactics, organizing people directly impacted by state and community violence all while organizing those that will combat our narrative of a world without police that means grandmothers, school teachers, small business owners to form a rainbow coalition of voices; it also means doing the political education work needed to inform these groups on police violence, city, county and municipal budgets and the concept of abolition.

Next Steps

The New Justice Project will run a campaign focused on deep-canvassing, political education and community healing. The aim of the program is to build a base of everyday Black Minnesotans committed to organizing around community safety, pushing for decreases in public safety budgets at the city, county and state level and organizing their community to win the gains they see necessary to build thriving communities.

1. Hosting community events focused on bridging the ideological gap related to abolition, educating the community on public safety budgets, abolitionist principles and reimagining community safety as a whole.

2. Running a city wide canvass program designed to survey 5,000 community members with the goal of building data sets related to police violence and municipal, county and state public safety budgets as well as introduce and educate Black community members on the concept of abolition as a long term goal.

Workforce Pathways

We understand that poverty is a symptom of a larger issue of institutional and systemic racism in regards to our states economy, we know that there is a clear need for investment into our black community members ability to organize for structural change inside of their workplace to increase wages, secure benefits and to promote the need for economic mobility, these are all concrete ways to close some of the socio-economic gaps that we see in MN.

Our goal as an organization is to create and foster a job-readiness program as well as an organizing program based in political education, leadership development and supplying everyday black workers the skills needed to effectively organize their workplace and their communities. We do this through a holistic organizing approach that creates space for workers to “skill-up” in partnership with unions and private sector companies and using that space as the entry into workplace organizing, leadership development and political involvement.

Tenets of Job Readiness

Fellowship and Healing: Many of our community members are coming from different places in life, with different trauma, different triggers and different issues we will make space to build fellowship and centering healing.

Soft Skills: Resume writing, interview skills, technology training).

Hard Skills: On-site training in partnership with labor unions and other community partners)

Political Education: All cohort members will participate in weekly political education training focused on building organizing skills and shaping world-view.

Housing for all

The socio-economic implications of COVID-19 along with the long-standing issue of wage stagnation for underskilled workers paired with skyrocketing rental costs and lack of long-term affordable housing solutions places black Minnesotans at a very unique crossroads one that presents the opportunity for the community, electeds and grassroots organizations to be creative and intentional to solving the question of housing in the state. A snapshot of the impact is clear when you look here in Minneapolis where houseless community members have come together to build “tent cities” in city parks to provide shelter for our most vulnerable residents when municipal and state governments would not or could not intervene with long term solutions, these patchwork solutions are both unsustainable and half hazard and have been met within some cases with violent opposition from City and Park officials. This alone should point to the fact that we are far away from where we need to be when it comes to housing in Minneapolis.

We believe that housing is a human right. We also believe that community members should have a direct say in what development happens in their community, in understanding this fact our focus is to build a housing program that focuses on three goals.

1. Building an organizing committee of Black residential tenants and houseless Minnesotans committed to building power and winning concrete wins for the Black residents.

2. Supporting the fight for Rent Control in the city of Minneapolis to ensure as development rises in Black communities long-term residents specifically Black residents are not priced out of the neighborhoods they call home.

3. Democratizing development/Anti-Displacement: Our aim is to increase resident involvement and negotiating power in neighborhood and city development projects to push for more affordable housing as well as a connection to employment opportunities on said projects.