What is the method that will work? I will admit that I don’t know.
I once mentioned to a woman who works with FIERCE that I’d be happy to donate some clothes that no longer fit me to any young transgender youth who might need woman’s clothing, and the reply I got was that they wouldn’t want “last season’s clothes” Okay. So, what are some other options?
How can we, who feel and are regularly victimized by a group of very troubled and angry youth, communicate to these young people that we are not their enemy?
How do you disarm someone who is so marginalized and so angry that they lash out with violence?
This is a diversity issue in that we need to understand diversity issues in order to resolve these community conflicts; however, the fact that diversity plays a part does not make any violence that occurs acceptable or okay. It is never okay and that still needs to be communicated.
However, I’ve come to realize that even if we were to be successful in having NYC print up and distribute pamphlets for the young people that would explain to them the importance of not blocking the sidewalks, not touching people, not screaming in people’s ears, and not hitting, grabbing or punching people; we would still have a problem.
These young people have strong feelings of anger. The shouting and sign-carrying at the community meetings does not constitute real communication. There need to be responses to the statements that are made.
To the community I want to say I share the difficulty in being asked to be patient. This problem has been going on for nearly two decades with very little meaningful positive intervention from NYC–until recently when more police were added to the streets.
I recently had the privilege of hearing William Blair, Chief of Toronto’s Police speak at the International Emotional Intelligence Conference. He spoke of the importance of the police forging relationships with any community that feels or is marginalized for whatever reason. He knows there are bad guys and he spoke of them, and I do realize that many of the kids who visit GV are engaging in very bad behavior; stabbing, mugging, kicking, grabbing, sexually assaulting, robbing, threatening, following, and beating. This must stop and it must be handled as much as possible by our new beat officers.
However, for those kids who are not part of the problem, we need to forge positive relationships with them and help make them part of the solution.
I believe this can be done. I also had the privilege of attending a diversity workshop/presentation by Shakil Choudhury and Annahid Dashtgard from Anima Leadership, based in Toronto. I believe that just as Shakil and Annahid teach mindfulness, use of Emotional Intelligence, and basic empathy skills, we can do this in the West Village.
I would like to invite those young people who are not violent or assaultive and who wish to be a part of the solution to please contact me with your ideas on how we can improve this community situation.