Racial Justice Rising, Traprock holding online talk on ‘policing with HEART’

  • Members of Racial Justice Rising hold signs in downtown Greenfield following the death of George Floyd. The organization, in collaboration with the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, is holding a free online program titled “Is policing with HEART possible?” on Monday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2021 3:32:22 PM

GREENFIELD — “Is policing with HEART possible?”

This question is the title and topic of a free online discussion presented by Racial Justice Rising and the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice. The talk will be held Monday from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Led by activist Queen-Cheyenne Wade, the discussion will touch on the development of her Cambridge-based program HEART, which stands for the Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team. Wade is one of the founders of the HEART program, whose work focuses on ending cycles of carceral/colonial violence, transformative justice, youth leadership and Black Marxist frameworks.

“The Black and Brown community has been calling for change in policing, especially with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, which in 2020 is what prompted the creation of HEART,” reads a press release for the event.

Racial Justice Rising member Emily Greene has helped organize the presentation with Traprock Center for Peace and Justice member Pat Hynes of Montague. According to Greene, the HEART program looks to develop response teams that exist outside of police departments and are trained to respond to anything from domestic violence to mental health crises. Monday’s presentation will be led by Wade, and will have time for questions from attendees.

Greene said the group has invited Mayor Roxann Wedergartner and City Council members, and hopes the presentation will inspire action in Franklin County.

“We’re hoping, when the program is presented and we see how it is working, they will consider a similar program here in Greenfield,” Greene explained. “If successful, it could spread across the county.”

While she did not know how potential conversation with city officials might progress, if at all, Greene said Racial Justice Rising meets each month to discuss topics of interest and actionable steps that can be made in the local community. The organization’s monthly programs are supported in part by grants from area cultural councils, including Amherst, Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont-Hawley, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Heath, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Rowe, Shelburne, Warwick, Wendell and Whately.

“We are eternally grateful that, for quite a number of years now, cultural councils have been donating so we can pay our speakers and other program expenses,” Greene said.

According to Greene, Racial Justice Rising formed more than a decade ago, and began holding regular programs about five years ago. The group also holds vigils on the Greenfield Common. During the pandemic, Racial Just Rising was unable to hold monthly events and most programs were held via Zoom.

Despite this, virtual programs have seen up to 70 people attend on average. Greene said Monday’s discussion could surpass 100 people.

Those interesting in registering for “Is policing with HEART possible?” should visit bit.ly/2TA0piC.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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