Moment of Truth Statement. We want to share this statement on behalf of Violence Free Colorado (VFC) and the 44 other state DV & SA coalitions who signed on in response to the police trauma and violence experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Over the past three weeks, this statement was developed by leaders from five state coalitions with input from a group of coalition leaders of color and in consultation with a small group of national movement leaders of color: Beth Ritchie, Mimi Kim and Alexis Flanagan. Each of these women have a long history within the movement, a deep commitment to survivors of color and each of them have written and/or commented extensively on the issues raised in the statement. The statement was recently officially released to a group of national partners (NNEDV, WOCN, NAESV, Ujima, Resonance Network, etc.) and to organizations and groups that we support and want to build strategic partnership with (BLM, M4BL, Just Beginnings Collaborative, Just Practice, Collective and others). Exploration of ideas of how to put this statement into action on a broad scale has started via our allied national coalitions.
VFC’s Decision to Endorse. Because of the transformational movement work Violence Free Colorado has been engaged in for the past four years, we were asked to be an early signer of the statement and had to act decisively and quickly. I sent the statement to our Team and Board of Directors for review and input. The decision to sign on was nearly unanimous except for one member of our Board of Directors who subsequently resigned their position. VFC’s leadership views the opportunity to sign onto to this bold, challenging, and overdue statement as a privilege. This statement stands in agreement with the work already begun by the Coalition and captured in our core coalition values of self-determination/autonomy, partnership with people with lived experience, nonviolence, social justice, equity, equality, and anti-oppression. We invite you to read the statement and know that there will be a wide range of responses for individuals and organizations. We ask that you reflect on what is stirring in you. Let’s have a conversation as a Coalition about this statement soon. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or our Board of Directors.
Work Already Begun. This statement signals a much broader shift across the national movement’s direction and priorities. Some are saying that the time is NOW. But that’s only partly true: this moment has long been coming. We must be responsible for the missed opportunities that have culminated in the now. Violence Free Colorado has been committed to transforming ourselves and our organization for the past few years, including capacity-building in transformational movement leadership and working toward centering the communities most impacted by violence. Here are some actions we have already taken: Violence Free Colorado’s Team has worked to expand safe, affordable housing for everyone, particularly for survivors of violence who are most impacted, through the promotion and implementation of Domestic Violence Housing First and Rapid Rehousing models, through advocacy for increased resources for this work, and through support of collaborative systems advocacy and public policy efforts; through our housing, systems advocacy and public policy work we have worked to address the criminalization of homelessness, including opposition to Denver’s camping ban and advocating for safe, designated camping sites for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic; and we have promoted community-based practices, such as transformative justice, as alternatives to criminal legal system intervention for healing, safety and accountability.
What’s Next? Our hope (and intention in Colorado) is to use the letter as a catalyst for discussions with you, our members and our partners, and as a catalyst for healing and relationship building with those who we have harmed and excluded in our state; guidance for our policy initiatives and community building actions; and a blueprint for how we conceive of our work as Colorado’s relationship violence coalition. Gender justice, racial justice, economic justice and the health and well-being of our communities are inextricably linked. To end relationship violence, we must end state violence and dedicate ourselves and our organizations to racial equity and anti-racism.
We also know that for our members and other partners in Colorado, your paths may look different from ours. Yet, we are all heading toward the same purpose horizon, and we will all reach that horizon in our own time and way. What is important in this moment of truth is unity, not uniformity. We have been part of the harm and can be part of the healing. How can we help you navigate?
Let’s come together in August or September for Violence Free Colorado’s annual statewide membership meeting and engage in a conversation about this statement and what it means for our work together as a coalition and to share information with each other about the obstacles we face and how we are or plan to overcome them. We will be in touch soon regarding a date and time for the virtual meeting.
In the meantime, here are a few questions to reflect on: How can we, together, improve our community culture and practices so that we operate more closely to our expressed goal of overcoming violence and oppression? What are the structural changes that will center the margins of this community? How do our shared values show up in day-to-day decisions? How do we honor and live into beloved community, where no one is disposable or invisible, where everyone is whole and valued for their inherent worthiness and everyone is safe and has the conditions to thrive?
We look forward to our continued work in community together, to challenging each other, to holding ourselves and each other accountable as an act of love. Please let’s keep talking, let’s keep examining and let’s keep uniting in our shared humanity, centering the BIPOC people in our community and whom we serve.
With deep respect,
Amy Miller & Violence Free Colorado Board of Directors Members: Jennifer Eyl, Adam Evans, Staci Woods, Sean Miller, Becky Treece,
Holly Kasper-Blank, and Laura Pearson