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South Bend community talks restorative justice, trust at first healing circle

NOW: South Bend community talks restorative justice, trust at first healing circle

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A group of community members coming together Saturday to talk solutions after recent violence in South Bend.

Representatives from South Bend Schools Restorative Justice Leadership Team, Common Council members, activists and teachers all made up the first-ever healing and grieving circle in the city.

The meeting took place at the Charles Black Community Center.

“Repairing harm, getting understanding and building community,” Derrick Perry, one community member who attended said.

In the wake of the deadly officer-involved shooting of car break-in suspect Eric Logan in June and the death of Brandon Williams in a mass shooting at Kelly’s Pub, many in the community feel change is needed.

“For a long time in south bend, we’ve used a very like punitive process of dealing with violence,” Jorden Giger, a local Black Lives Matter Activist said.

For Giger finding a solution means taking a different approach.

“With restorative justice, it’s really about getting to the root causes of where the violence comes from and why people find themselves and how they get into those situations,” Giger said.

Giger is one of many who joined a healing and grieving circle Saturday hosted by South Bend Schools Restorative Justice Leadership Team.

“To facilitate a community conversation about healing from historical harms, from violence. To disrupt the system of how we have conversations.to have conversations that matter in a healing or restorative way,” Kathe Streeter, a Restorative Justice Coordinator, said.

Their hope? To become a self-healing community.

“We want to build trustworthiness, restorative practices in schools, restorative practices in communities. We’ll build community trustworthiness over time by putting structures in to place,” Streeter said.

“We have a lot of young people here who are hurting,” Giger said. “When you’re going up and down Michigan street or downtown or just out in the neighborhoods in the community, you see a lot of young people, school-aged kids who are out with their backpacks walking around. How many of us actually stop and address those kids and say you know ‘why aren’t you in school? What’s going on? What do you need? How can I help you?”

Many here are even bringing a proposal to the common council that would train folks in South Bend to hold circles just like this one.

“This is intended to help train individuals throughout the community to make sure that they have the resources to lead circles, to have restorative conversations in different settings, community centers, churches, every single place in the community. We want south bend to be a restorative justice community,” Dalila Huerta, the Education/Community Programs Coordinator at La Casa Di Amistad said. “This is an effort that is pushed out early on to change the vibe of the community, change the way people interact, be more cognizant of how they treat other people. Build trust. Build community,” Perry said.

It’s a way to talk about violence in South Bend and try to stop it.

“It’s a conversation that needs to happen right now. It’s a conversation the community has been calling for,” Streeter said.

The next meetings are the same community center on September 14 and October 5. Event organizers encourage everyone in the community to come and join the conversation.

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