A groundbreaking after school program in Hartford, Connecticut is making significant progress — albeit on a local scale — in repairing the relationship between law enforcement and Black and latino youth.
Good Vibrations, founded by Rabbi Donna Berman, invites middle school boys and cops to take classes in rap and guitar for 12 weeks, giving the two parties, whose differences have been the subject of national attention after Ferguson, Baltimore, et al., a chance to come together — literally — in harmony.
“When I first thought of this idea for Good Vibrations, someone said to me, ‘That’s ridiculous. Nobody’s going to do that,’" Berman tells the New York Times. Thankfully, the naysayer was wrong.
“We couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough,” Deputy Chief Brian Foley said. “Every positive interaction we have with a kid in our city hopefully outweighs a negative one somewhere else. We’re trying to build trust with as many people as we can. I don’t think law enforcement has done a great job with that.”
Good Vibrations has been so successful, the program will expand this fall from 20 kids and 6 cops, to 60 kids and 15 cops. The impact is already being felt in Hartford, where the relationship between young boys of color and cops is better than it has been in years, and far better than the national rhetoric implies.
“I thought police officers were just to catch bad guys and be in a bad tone. But these guys are awesome," says Kayke Lopes, one of the program's participants. "They’re always in a good tone with us. They play with us. They tag along in our jokes. They do stuff with us. They help us. They give us advice and everything.”
To find out more about the Good Vibrations program at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, go to charteroakcenter.org.
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(Photo: WFSB-TV, Hartford Local News)