Over the past couple of years, Project NIA has spearheaded the development and dissemination of several curriculum projects focused on youth criminalization and on exploring the roots of violence more generally. We have been excited to partner with such organizations as the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective, Chicago Freedom School, Teachers for Social Justice, and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on some of these projects.

by Rachel Williams

We have been approached and contacted by youth workers and organizers who are looking for more tools to discuss and address the issue of policing with young people in their communities. This topic is particularly pressing for those individuals who are working with young men of color in urban centers.

As part of our “Exploring the Roots of Violence Initiative,” Project NIA is committed to making free and/or low cost curriculum and resources available to educators, youth workers, and community organizers. We do this even though we do not currently receive any specific funding to offer these resources to the broader public. We are well aware of the difficulty that grassroots organizations face in developing curriculum that will make an impact in addressing intractable social problems.

In the spirit of collaboration and with a focus on open source knowledge, we are sharing this set of resources addressing policing, violence and resistance. Some of these are created by our allies (for which we are profoundly grateful) and others have been developed by us.

For many of the young people who we work with, the police symbolize fear rather than protection. The experience of being consistently harassed by law enforcement is deeply felt and can engender a great deal of anger. Much of that anger however is unexpressed and it is almost never analyzed or contextualized historically. Thus young people are sometimes left feeling powerless in the face of aggressive policing in their communities. The police are our most readily accessible symbol of the state’s power over our daily existence. Their role in our society, in our communities, and in our lives deserves to be examined and discussed.

So the question is: how do we as adults engage young people around the history of policing in the United States and the manifestations of police violence?

We hope that the resources and activities that we offer on this site provide some ideas.

As always, we greatly value your feedback. It helps us to improve our work and provides us with future ideas to pursue. So drop us a line at projectnia@hotmail.com to let us know how you are using these resources in your work with young people.