After participating in over ten years of anti-policing work in Oakland, Critical Resistance launched the Oakland Power Projects (OPP) in 2015 in order to build Oakland’s capacity to resist the every-day violence of policing.
Through OPP, CR engaged Oakland residents in building community power to reject policing as the default response to harm by working with residents and organizations to highlight or create alternatives that actually work. We did this by connecting with communities and facilitating a three-step process of identifying current harms, amplifying existing resources, and developing new practices that do not rely on policing or law enforcement.
MORE ABOUT THE POWER PROJECTS
Following the successes of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition and strong city-wide organizing against policing, CR was determined to continue eroding the power of OPD and to continue stoking anti-policing politics in Oakland. CR talked with our allies and, with their guidance, saw that we could make this an opportunity to shift towards building practical abolitionist tools that empower us to divest from policing, instead of waiting for the cops to unveil some new scheme or leave us furious and reactive in the wake of inevitable calamity or tragedy.
In 2014, we talked with residents across the city about their experiences with police and about their dreams for making Oakland healthy and strong. People repeatedly expressed:
- they wanted access to health and healing resources that weren’t linked to policing
- they wanted help during health crises that wasn’t connected to or hindered by the cops
Critical Resistance then reached out to community health workers. CR members talked with emergency room doctors, community medics, community clinicians, and herbal healers, and asked them what they thought Oakland residents needed to know about staying healthy and what kinds of resources they would like to see developed in the city.
From that information, we’re building our first Power Project to work with people to build skills and confidence in addressing some health concerns while decreasing people’s contact with police. We are organizing a cohort of these health workers to design and provide community-based “Know Your Options” education so Oakland residents can confidently not call the cops as a first resort if they’re worried about people being hurt. These workshops are being designed to build people’s skills and knowledge so that they can access the healthcare that they need while minimizing potential police contact.
ANTI-POLICING HEALTH WORKERS COHORT OFFERS 3 WORKSHOPS
Because policing fails to meet people’s needs, and puts people in danger of arrest, imprisonment, and/or even death, we must eliminate connections between policing and healthcare. The Anti-Policing Health workers Cohort, our first PowerProject, aims to
- increase resistance of the every-day violence of policing;
- strengthen people’s skills to respond to community emergencies in ways that minimize police contact;
- ultimately decouple access to health care from policing.
The “Know Your Options” workshop series from Critical Resistance’s Oakland Power Projects aims to increase people’s access to the healthcare they need and to decrease people’s contact with law enforcement.
Each workshop is designed to increase our understanding of different health topics so when moments of heightened symptoms, events or crises occur, people understand their medical needs and options. Our goal is to reduce immediate contact with policing, to reduce utilization of emergency services that draw undesired police attention, such as 911, and to support someone accessing the care they need with dignity in case there is law enforcement already on the scene (often entangled with 911 response) or stationed at the site of healthcare (hospital, clinic, etc). In all workshops, we’ll practice ways to reduce our contact with policing and minimize its impact. By then end of this workshop, we hope people are more empowered to address community health needs and to resist the violence of policing.
Workshops are facilitated by healthcare workers and community organizers.
The “Know Your Options: Behavioral Health” is designed to increase people’s understanding of mental health-related experiences, events, trauma, and conditions so that we don’t default to 911 or the cops when a baseline or escalated mental health-related event or experience happens.
The “Know Your Options: Chronic Health” workshop is designed to increase people’s understanding of how policing, incarceration and gentrification drive health inequalities manifest as chronic illnesses and to empower folks who live with them to access the care they need with minimal contact with law enforcement. The workshop ends with the problem of substance use and specific training on responding to and reversing drug overdoses.
The “Know Your Options: Acute Emergencies” workshop is designed to increase people’s confidence and understanding of acute injuries, ranging from gunshot wounds, knife wounds, glass lacerations, to car crashes, falls, and other unanticipated sudden health impacts. The workshop will address basic medical needs and “red flags” so people know what level of care they need to access, and guidance about how to access this care.
QUOTES from OPP STORY COLLECTING