UCP is an emerging, effective, courageous practice demonstrated in local neighborhoods and large-scale international conflicts. The DCPT offers nonpartisan UCP to de-escalate hostility and to cultivate empathy. UCP is helpful in various conflict situations, such as street monitoring, accompaniment of children to school, protection for those living on the streets, political demonstrations, etc. If you know of a one time event or situation in need of regular UCP by professionally trained persons, contact us and we’d be happy to deploy and/or train your local group to offer UCP. Below are some DCPT examples:
A. Providing Monitoring and Protective Presence:
1. In 2011, DCPT surveyed neighborhoods to map the areas where conflicts simmer and are most likely to erupt. The first one identified was Gallery Place, a booming downtown area where teenagers “hang out,” families attend sporting events, and tourists & a variety of area residents come for movies, restaurants, and night life. Merchants who view the young people as a threat have hired security guards and demanded increased police presence.
Between the police, the security guards, and Metro transit police, the area bristles with uniforms. At least some of the time, young people respond to the defensiveness and occasional hostility they encounter by pushing the limits or applauding those who do. Violent incidents between youth and police have occurred, iPhone and wallet snatchings are not uncommon, even with the police presence, and violent incidents continue.
DCPT members engaged the scene Friday and Saturday evenings and at other times as needed to monitor the interactions of all parties, including the police. We practiced proactive presence by talking with the merchants, guards, and police as well as young people, adult residents, and tourists. Our intention was to offer respect for our equal dignity, active compassionate listening, and conflict transformation skills to all the parties involved and to be seen as non-partisan with resources to provide.
Resources DCPT provided include nonviolent conflict intervention training opportunities and social service connections for youth looking for housing, food, education, jobs, etc. We’ve also developed “tip cards” on nonviolent conflict intervention tactics for security guards and youth; as well as “tip cards” on knowing your rights for the youth in situations of police confrontations.
2. The DCPT also offers monitoring of political demonstrations to defuse hostility and violence as well as to cultivate empathy in the various parties. We’ve monitored the Westboro Baptist Church at Arlington Cemetery, the March for Life, and a Drones protest.
B. Providing Protective Accompaniment:
Through our partnership with the National Homecomers Academy (NHA), 2-4 Safe Passage volunteers walk along the routes where children go to and from school in the Kenilworth-Parkside community. Join us on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 7:15am – 9:15am and in the afternoon from 3:00pm – 4:30pm. Accompaniment activities are led by the Homecomers, returning citizens who are committed to giving back to their communities. The Washington Post wrote about the program in September 2011. The intention is to provide a sense of adult support for the children and model adult engagement. Combining this activity with other local community building initiatives NHA and DCPT hopes to empower neighborhood members to begin to take on these roles of protective accompaniment.