On an unseasonably warm winter day, a group of teenagers and police officers sat together on Chicago’s south side for a Peace Circle at COFI’s Community Peace Center at I Grow Chicago (6402 S. Honore, Chicago). Talibah Moore, a COFI parent leader and POWER-PAC Elementary Justice Campaign (EJC) member remembers one special moment:
“One of the police officers began to speak and he took his vest off. He said, ‘I want you all to look at me as a person just like you.’ He spoke to them like a real man – not a police officer, not trying to threaten them. He spoke to them just like a man.”
In the moments that followed, the teens and officers shared their understandings of each other. They confessed their biases and took steps towards building real community. Talibah and other POWER-PAC parents were in attendance as Circle Keepers and in support of the youth who first came up with the idea of engaging with police in this manner after participating in circles at the Peace Center.
“Bringing Youth and Police Officers into Conversation” is a joint-effort between POWER-PAC’s Elementary Justice Campaign and I Grow Chicago. It is funded through the Get IN Chicago initiative. The series of conversations provide a safe space for healing through dialogue.