Last Thursday, like so many youth and families across the state, staff from the Legal Rights Center tuned into Governor Tim Walz's announcement about the State of Minnesota’s school re-opening plan. Our Y:EARS (Youth Education, Advocacy, and Restorative Services) team partners directly with Minneapolis Public Schools, St. Paul Public Schools, and other Hennepin County School Districts to provide school-based restorative services so we were anxious to hear what the Governor had to say about the 2020-21 school year.
Schooling in this pandemic is a difficult task, and it feels that, in many ways, there is no good solution. We worry, like so many advocates, that low-income youth and students from marginalized communities are going to experience the most disparate negative impacts of education during this pandemic.
Regardless of the education model that a school district selects, we believe that a core piece of instruction this school year should be a restorative approach to building relationships and opportunities for processing the events of the last 4 months. There will be no real learning if this space to process is not provided for youth, families and school staff.
Students and educators will need to rely on caring relationships with one another now more than ever. They will need opportunities to share their fears and concerns. They will need to have trusting, open communication to share their successes and challenges when school starts. We remain committed to working with our partners, in schools and in the community, to explore opportunities to provide restorative facilitation services to meet this need in the upcoming school year.
2020 has reminded us that being in right relationships with one another is crucial not only for individual wellbeing but for community wellbeing. We are committed to creatively adapting restorative approaches to support the development and maintenance of positive relationships for the youth, families, and partners that we work with in Minneapolis, St. Paul and across the Metro.
This week at the LRC, we are starting something new - a weekly roundup blog post! From here on out we’ll have a blog entry every week, which will include: highlights from our social media, articles we’ve been mentioned in, and other items to keep you all up to date on our work at the Legal Rights Center.
This Week In Our Social Media:
Congratulations To MPD Commander Gio Veliz For Being Selected As An NIJ LEADS Scholar!
The LRC Supports ACLU-MN and Fish & Richardson Suing On Behalf Of Injured George Floyd Protestors
Recommendations For Protecting Incarcerated Youth and Adults From The Justice Roundtable
The LRC in the News:
Legal Rights Center Works With Minneapolis Community To Reimagine Public Safety
Community Strategy Lead and Restorative Facilitator Malaika Hankins discusses George Floyd, Cornelius Frederick, community safety, and long-term youth justice efforts. Full interview is linked.
Thank You To Our Amazing Donors!
This month we really wanted to say thanks to those who have donated to the LRC this month - especially those we haven’t been able to thank through other avenues. Our fight for justice has much forward work to do, and we thank you for joining with us!
That's all for this week! Follow us on Twitter (@LegalRightsCtr), Facebook, and Instagram (@mplslegalrightscenter) to stay up to date on the news we share and work we do.
Sparked by George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent global uprising, some of the unjust and discriminatory practices of the police have been illuminated. News stories such as that of Amy Cooper in Central Park, are finally holding the public’s attention. These stories demonstrate the unchecked power that the police (or threat of the police) can wield against Black people, even when they are doing nothing wrong. Here is a story from one of our attorneys in such a case:
"Recently, I had a case in which my client was sitting in his vehicle, minding his own business, not offending any law. Nearby, an officer was doing traffic duty at one of the parking garages during rush hour. A person complained to the officer that my client was violating a traffic law and the officer went over to my client. Within 12 seconds of approaching my client the officer was attempting to physically pull him out of the vehicle. During the altercation, my client remained calm - as calm as someone can be when they think an officer is about to kill them. After this unjust encounter, my client was charged with Obstructing Legal Process. Thankfully the case was dismissed by the prosecution after the defense filed a motion to dismiss. However, this is yet another case where a Black man was not doing anything wrong and had an interaction with a police officer which ended in him receiving charges."
Are you a youth (age 14-24) or family member who has had experience with the juvenile justice system? The Legal Rights Center, in partnership with the Minnesota Coalition for Youth Justice and National Juvenile Justice Network, is launching a 2020-21 Youth Justice Organizing Fellowship. We’re looking for 10 people to join this paid fellowship to empower their communities and advocate for statewide and local change in the juvenile justice system.
What makes you the right person for the fellowship?
What’s the fellowship experience?
If you’re interested in joining the fellowship, please call, text, or email Malaika Hankins, Community Strategy Lead at the Legal Rights Center (email@example.com, 612-460-1836).
LRC and partners call on Hennepin County to immediately end the practice of placing children in correctional facilities, as well as for an immediate court review for every child currently confined in a correctional facility
On May 1, 2020 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick died after being restrained for throwing a sandwich at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a youth correctional facility run by the for-profit Sequel facility management corporation. We have now learned that an autopsy confirmed that Cornelius died as a result of asphyxiation during the restraint. Several children from Hennepin County were confined at Lakeside Academy when Cornelius was killed. In fact, Hennepin County frequently placed children at Lakeside Academy on juvenile delinquency matters, despite a publicly documented history of violations substantiated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Although Hennepin County has since removed all children from this facility, this response is not sufficient.
Cornelius Frederick should be alive today. His death at the hands of staff at a youth correctional facility must be a wake-up call for Hennepin County juvenile justice stakeholders at all decision points – from pre-arrest to post-disposition. George Floyd was restrained, asphyxiated, and murdered by Minneapolis police officers for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Cornelius Frederick threw a sandwich at a youth correctional facility. Every child currently placed in a correctional facility is at imminent risk. Hennepin County cannot allow this to continue.
It is well past time to end the detrimental practice of removing our children from our communities and confining them in correctional facilities under the pretense of providing therapeutic treatment. Cornelius Frederick’s death is not an isolated tragedy of one child in one facility, but an extreme manifestation of the unsafe circumstances that children commonly experience when removed from their homes by the juvenile justice system. Children in correctional facilities are routinely subjected to maltreatment through bullying, inappropriate restraint, and other forms of physical abuse. Many children end up cycling through multiple correctional facilities, pointing to a very basic failure in their stated purpose.
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The Legal Rights Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit financially supported by: the State of Minnesota, foundations, local law firms, corporations and individuals. Clients are never charged for our services.