Racial Justice in Essex
January 11, 2020
We are writing with a full summary of the Racial Equity work that has happened in Essex, since we embarked on a process of listening, learning and action planning among community members, police and municipal leaders in August 2020. Here is where we are right now. The work has been in partnership with Sue McCormack and Tabitha Moore of Creative Discourse.
- We engaged 600 people in an initial survey, 58 community members in a series of four listening sessions, and 203 respondents in a second survey.
- Of the 261 residents who participated in the listening sessions and second survey, 64 identified themselves as BIPOC. BIPOC participants were overrepresented in this process (with 22% of participants identifying as BIPOC, compared with BIPOC making up about 8% of the Essex population). It is important to have overrepresentation of marginalized voices when addressing issues where the marginalized group is often disproportionately impacted.
- Creative Discourse led three day long racial justice learning sessions at the Essex Police Department. All full and part time EPD staff and sworn officers attended one of the sessions. Creative Discourse also led a three-session racial justice learning series for Essex municipal and school board members, department heads and municipal staff.
- We formed a Safety, Policing and Racial Justice collaborative planning team of almost thirty youth and adults, including community members, police officers, and school and municipal officials who expressed interest in being involved during the Fall. Two meetings were held with the planning team, on 12/9/20 and 12/16/20, where the results of surveys and Listening Sessions were shared and discussed.
- Planning is underway to reconvene the Safety, Policing and Racial Justice collaborative planning team for a half day retreat in February to revisit priorities they’ve identified (based on community input) and create a plan of action to address those priorities.
Following are some of the outcomes we have seen because of our work so far.
- The listening sessions led to a community BIPOC communication/support channel.
- There is increased understanding across municipal leadership and EPD about issues related to racism, diversity and equity. Participants also report increased confidence to address issues related to racism and inequities following the sessions.
- We have strengthened relationships and created new relationships and connections across municipal departments and EWSD. There are weekly meetings devoted to discussion and planning related to racial equity across Essex.
- We have developed a baseline understanding of community vision, experiences, and ideas related to safety, policing, and racial justice in Essex.
- Evan Teich, the Essex unified manager, is developing a set of high-level draft equity goals for the municipality.
- We are beginning to build shared vision for equity among community member and municipal leaders.
The Essex Community Justice Center and Chief Hoague have been asked to be panelists at the “Restorative Approaches and Policing Institute” that is being held by The National Center on Restorative Justice (NCRJ) in February 2021. The Institute is funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance/Office of Justice Programs (BJA/OJP) and is being convened as a national “Think Tank” where we will engage in discussion with other leading practitioners on what restorative justice and policing practices/programs are currently happening around the US, what themes exist across these programs, what the need is for restorative approaches in policing, and what opportunities exist for expanding this work.
Municipal staff plans to provide updates on racial justice work monthly. The updates will also be posted on Town and Village websites (www.essexvt.org and www.essexjunction.org) and Front Porch Forum. If you are interested in receiving updates directly, please email Jill Evans, Director of the Essex Community Justice Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to an email list.
Jill Evans, Director, Essex Community Justice Center
November 11, 2020
This is an update about the racial equity work happening in Essex. There are several ways for you to participate in improving safety, policing and racial justice in Essex:
- Please take a few minutes to answer a survey at https://forms.gle/b61jnem3fUn3tWwv7 Please invite others to answer the survey as well. We are especially interested in hearing from young people and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) who live(d) or work(ed) in Essex. The survey will be open until Monday, November 16.
- We are forming a task force to review the results of the survey and the recent Community Listening Sessions and to create a plan of action to address inequities, that is informed by the voices of underrepresented residents. The task force will include students, community members, members of the police department, and municipal leaders. If you are interested in serving on this task force, please reach out to Jill Evans at the Community Justice Center (email@example.com) by November 20, 2020.
Thank you for your interest as we continue this work. For more information, please contact Deputy Manager Greg Duggan at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thank you to the more than 50 community members who participated in one of four listening sessions recently held to discuss safety, policing and racial justice in Essex. Our final listening session was held with members of the Nepali community on November 1st.
- Have you heard of VIEW (Voices for Inclusion in Essex & Westford)? VIEW is a group of diverse community members who are working to create events and opportunities for Essex and Westford residents that allow for all voices to be heard and understood. VIEW wants to strengthen our community by looking at it through the various lenses of people we live and work with. If you are interested in learning more please reach out to Karen Dolan at email@example.com and/or visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/947416479013737
If you want to receive occasional updates about this work, please email Deputy Manager Greg Duggan and he will add you to an email distribution list. You can reach Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, for an update about state level work around policing and racial justice, please see a webpage seeking input on several draft policies that are being worked on: https://dps.vermont.gov/modernization
Evan Teich, Unified Manager, Town of Essex and Village of Essex Junction
Ron Hoague, Essex Police Chief
Greg Duggan, Deputy Manager, Town of Essex and Village of Essex Junction
Elaine Haney, Selectboard Chair
Vince Franco, Selectboard