The Public Safety Program
The Public Safety Program, housed under the RHI’s Young Adult department, was founded based on the findings of the Real Rites research project. Led by RHI and a group of young adults from Red Hook, in partnership with the Public Science Project, the Real Rites team conducted a participatory action research study, to explore the root of the increase in violence in the Red Hook Houses. The Real Rites project, dedicated to Deion Fludd, a young man from and loved by the community, who was killed due to police violence in 2013, found that:
- A loss of community-led social support, connectedness, and mentorship contribute to violence in Red Hook.
- Police interrupt community-building for young adults. Police harassment and police violence were witnessed or experienced by nearly all the young adults who participated in the study.
- Peer-related violence, like fighting and shooting, is often defined as “unnecessary” and is fueled by petty disputes.
The Real Rites team recommended that RHI launch youth-led violence prevention initiatives that include youth-led activities and events to promote community building, healing, and interconnectedness. The foundational pillar was that Youth-led community building is violence prevention. Young adults need opportunities to lead, mentor, contribute their expertise, and build unity in their communities. The Public Safety Program, founded in early 2021 is another next step on that journey.
The program seeks to educate, train and employ young adults from Red Hook, while providing safety to explore their own identities. Highlighting issues surrounding public safety, and challenges our young adults to see how their perceptions around these issues are shaped by their own identity intersections. Many choose to ignore the voices of young adults and discredit their understanding of the issues that plague our society, while simultaneously blaming them and their lack of involvement for many of those issues, specifically youth of color, and surrounding issues of community safety. The program breaks that cycle by providing direct platforms for our young adults to engage with local community stakeholders, to have their voices heard by decision makers, and learn more about the issues and policies that affect them and their community.