Not Relying on the PoLice at all- Family Council and My Story

Tiny - Posted on 03 August 2020

The police, an institution put in place to serve and protect civilians, has proven time and time again that when they are called, they spell nothing but trouble for black, brown, and/or poor people in general. I am Tibu, a formerly homeless youth resident of Homefulness and a long time member of POOR Magazine. I have seen first hand that we can't change that system, so immersed in the history of our nation that the idea of police brutality dated back to the founding of America, so at POOR Magazine we decided on a way to not rely on them at all. We are comprised of formerly homeless people of color, so calling the cops would mean a death sentence for us. So we came up with a way to solve internal conflicts without having to rely on intervention from our would-be killers. That way is a meeting/ healing circle called the Family Council.


In Family Councils, we bring up the issue with both parties involved in the room and other members weighing in. These councils are regulated by a chair, who follows a guideline called the Rules of Respect. I have been in many of these, but one that specifically stands out to me is when a certain member of Homefulness slandered our name, and when confronted about it told a series of lies that involved us harming her and attempting to evict her. Over the course of this issue, there were many Family Councils and different attempts at solving the problem peacefully. Because of solutions and mediations within those Family Councils, she left. If we had called the police on her in the beginning because we were trying to get her to leave as she was not following the rules that come with living here and not contributing in any way to this project the whole process would have been easier. However, we have no idea that if when we called the police on her, or took any sort of legal action, they might harm/kill her or us in the process, and the whole reason we came up with this process is so we wouldn't have to take that risk.


Family Councils are usually extremely uncomfortable, and long, but they are necessary for the kind of movement we are running. They perfectly encapsulate the hard work we put into making sure everyone is safe and listened to, especially the aggressors and conflict starters. Homefulness, POOR Magazine, and especially Deecolonize Academy (which I am a student of), cannot exist without the Family Council and Rules of Respect system, and due to both of those systems I can be confident in saying I have a strong grasp in problem-solving and conflict resolution. Movements like ours that consist of black, brown and poor people need resolution methods like these for survival. There is no other option, or last resort for us. We can't use one of these, but when it becomes too difficult call the police. We are the ones seen as enemies to this system, and relying on it to solve our problems takes the point away from our movement itself.   


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