H.O.P.E. is the name of a Mid-South Peace and Justice Center-sponsored organization whose members are exclusively people currently, or have formerly experienced homelessness. H.O.P.E. has been working hard to develop several project areas that address the issues that are a priority to the homeless community. For meeting times and dates, call.
For almost a year now, H.O.P.E. members have been organizing around documenting and reporting incidents of police harassment. Members elected to form a sub-group dubbed Street Watch with the goal of educating the public on their rights and using different methods to document potential cases of harassment, mistreatment or abuse by law enforcement or private security officers. The group initiated a series of Know-Your-Rights Workshops in conjunction with the public defenders office that they have held at different churches and community centers for the past five months.
In light of a recent surge in reports of harassment and the subsequent arrests of those who attempted to record these incidents, Street Watch committee members met to discuss collective responses to these incidents and decided to elect point persons and staffed working groups for Media, Outreach and Research.The group discussed plans for a town hall/community forum within the coming weeks and increasing the frequency of “Know Your Rights” Workshops.The group also discussed potential demonstrations and direct action tactics and messaging and the formation of a Copwatch program to video instances of police misconduct.
Since then, representatives of H.O.P.E., Manna House Memphis, and The Bridge: The Memphis Street Paper have met with MPD Col. Houston and his staff at the Crump Precinct to discuss the bigger picture of the negative relationship that exists between people experiencing homelessness and some police officers who work the area. We also introduced to them materials and a curriculum for Police Sensitivity Training created by Nashville Homeless Power Project and the National Healthcare For The Homeless Council,as well as 60 copies of the H.O.P.E. homeless survival guide. We also had deep conversations about the history of harassment at the Manna House and raised the concerns of the vendors of the Bridge as well as reports from our members about harassment of law abiding citizens at the park owned by All Saints Church. Col. Houston and his staff were respectful,open to dialog and showed our members courtesy. This is but the first of many dialogs but was a very promising first meeting.
H.O.P.E.’s Street Watch Initiative will be hosting its 6th Know Your Rights Workshop: Saturday,Nov 16th at the Memphis Center for Independent Living. 1633 Madison Ave. 2:30-4:30pm. “What are my rights? How do I assert my rights when I encounter Police? How do I file a compliant?” We want you to know!
Feeding the Movement
H.O.P.E would like to once again thank Memphis Center for Independent Living for providing us with space for our meetings while we seek a permanent location. There are lots of ways to feed the movement, and we would like to thank all of our allies for their continued support. For more information about how you can support HOPE or our different project areas, Please contact Paul Garner(901)725.4990, or email@example.com. Like H.O.P.E. on Facebook!