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Statement from the HOOTS Team

Written in collaboration by HOOTS team members with support of the White Bird Community Collective

The HOOTS (Helping Out Our Teens in Schools) program stands in solidarity with our youth, educators, and community members who are calling for our schools to prioritize the mental health needs and well-being of all students by de-funding the school resource officer (SRO) position and reallocating those funds towards support services for students. We stand with our community as it resoundingly demands that public schools be safe for all students and that school districts demonstrate a commitment to providing ample non-punitive support.

As a team of mental health and medical professionals, we see students on a daily basis who are survivors of a maladapted safety net that only exacerbates issues of poverty and oppression. Hoots believes in utilizing mediation, restorative justice and self-reflection–tools that we know to be more effective in the development of our students than criminalization and punishment. Our team encourages school administrators to work proactively to identify alternative ways in which student needs and challenges can be addressed, and we happily offer our assistance in whatever way we can. We believe that working to support students, rather than punishing them, is ultimately the path that will lead to safer schools.

We hear students of color speaking out about law enforcement presence in their schools, and the negative impact this has on their safety and ability to thrive. We need to listen and believe these voices, and allow them to lead the way toward racial justice in our school system. Despite the ubiquitous presence of SROs nationwide, very little evidence exists that supports their effectiveness at deterring acts of violence. On the contrary, in many instances, SROs have been found to perpetuate and escalate violence in schools.

Hoots pledges its support to the movement to reallocate all funding from the SRO program. We believe that students’ actions are a reflection of the care afforded to them by the community, and as such, well-compensated teachers, counselors, and support staff are what will truly make a difference in keeping students safe and healthy. We ask that all schools demonstrate their dedication to listening to the voices of students of color and their families, and the empirical evidence available showing the harm SROs can cause. We are thankful to be a part of a community that can have these challenging discussions.

White Bird’s Public Comment on the ‘Prohibited Camping Re-enforcement Rollout’

Update: On Tuesday, June 16th the Eugene Human Rights Commission unanimously voted to endorse this policy recommendation and refer it on to City Council for deliberation.

The following testimony in reference to the enforcement of the prohibited camping ordinance was submitted to the Eugene Police Commission, a twelve-member citizen body that acts in an advisory capacity to the city council, the chief of police and the city manager on police policy and resource issues. Join the Thursday, June 11 meeting via Webinar: https://eugene-or-gov.zoom.us/j/98439278535

Dear Police Commissioners,

In reference to your agenda item on the Prohibited Camping Re-enforcement Rollout, White Bird Clinic asks that EPD continue to follow CDC guidelines and not disperse encampments unless there is illegal conduct outside of camping.

Recommended Policy Focus ‚Äď Harm Reduction

  1. We support EPD strategies that minimize impacts to unhoused individuals:
    1. Response to unsanctioned camping complaints should provide outreach materials including camping guidelines, social services information and referral, COVID-19 information, and COVID-19 transmission prevention strategies including waste disposal.
    2. Implementing a code of conduct for campers.
    3. Providing educational materials on conflict mediation between individuals who shelter outside and other community members.
    4. Supporting community health and safety measures.
  1. We request the City of Eugene clarify locations where sheltering in place, including sheltering in a vehicle, is permitted and where it is prohibited.
  2. Establish recovery sites for sanctioned and supported camping that allow pets, partners and possessions, with 24-hour security, bathrooms, and storage.
  3. Establish an alternative call and dispatch system to using law enforcement when a complaint only involves prohibited camping and there is no threat to public safety or crisis response necessary.

White Bird Clinic believes that ending unsheltered homelessness requires a coordinated approach that addresses social, emotional, and physical well-being. We support policy initiatives that center people with lived experience and support solution-oriented advocacy efforts that adequately fund programs effective in ending homelessness.

Supporting Materials

  • Letter from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (‚ÄúLaw Center‚ÄĚ) to the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager, regarding the closure of temporary shelter facilities for people experiencing homelessness in Eugene, OR during the COVID-19 crisis, and the enforcement of anti-camping ordinances against people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis DOWNLOAD PDF
  • Interim Guidance on Unsheltered Homelessness and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for Homeless Service Providers and Local Officials, CDC Web Site

 

Racism is a Public Health Crisis

A Statement from CAHOOTS

Written by Ebony Morgan
CAHOOTS Crisis Intervention
Communications Team

Cahoots has been operating as a mobile crisis intervention program in Eugene since 1989. We respond in teams of two with a medic and trained crisis worker, handling 20% of the 911 calls in our area last year. This is a responsibility we take extremely seriously, and we feel privileged to do this work.

Across the nation, communities are demanding that elected leaders defund police, reallocate resources, and re-evaluate current approaches to public safety. As the first program of our kind, we are in a unique position to share our experience and knowledge with other cities that are now considering alternatives to policing. We are humbled by this and have become acutely aware of our privileged position within a system designed to oppress.

At our roots, Cahoots is innovative, forward-thinking, and dedicated to serving marginalized populations. Despite this, we are not immune to the effects of systemic racism and if we are going to lead by example, we must first do the work internally. We take responsibility for our past silence, and we commit to being advocates for change. We are actively seeking out, evaluating, and eradicating the ways that white supremacy exists within our structure and we encourage other organizations to do the same.

Cahoots proudly stands with Black Lives Matter. We believe it is not enough simply to disapprove of racism. Rather, we assert that individuals, organizations, communities, and the nation as a whole have a responsibility to be anti-racist. We will speak up when we see power inequities. We will amplify oppressed voices. We will continue to educate ourselves. We will not shy away from any aforementioned commitments due to potential risks. We will reflect regularly and welcome feedback as we learn to use our privilege constructively.

We are appalled by the lynching of George Floyd, aware that he was not the first nor the last to die a preventable death due to the color of his skin. Police brutality is not an isolated issue. It is a symptom of the broader toxic culture of white supremacy that was woven into the fiber of this nation as we know it during its inception.

Racism is a public health crisis. For the sake of health equity, we have a responsibility to dismantle systems of oppression. This will take a lot of effort and we will have to be intentional about addressing racism’s effects on the social determinants of health. We must begin this work immediately.

White Bird Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

White Bird Clinic was founded 50 years ago as an alternative for those who were alienated and disenfranchised by the dominant culture. We are outraged that half a century later there is still a lack of equality, justice, and freedom across our country. We recognize our privilege and our responsibility to employ that privilege to dismantle the racist systems, policies, and attitudes that contributed to the brutal and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others before them.

As a collective, we uphold the principle that the revolution against institutional racism and genocidal violence is not contingent on what is convenient for the white community. We will begin the fight by looking within to identify all policies and practices that are rooted in racism and excise them. We will insist that our work lives up to our values and be grounded in racial equity. We will battle the systematic oppression that subjugates people of color. White Bird Clinic stands with Black Lives Matter. We see you. We reject the institutions that oppress you. We honor your voices. We act with you.

CAHOOTS Mobile Mental Health Intervention Program In The News

White Bird‚Äôs CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program continues to make headlines. CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell correspondent Omar Villafranca went on a ride-along with CAHOOTS to see them at work and learn why the program is being considered by cities across the country.

NBC News featured the team’s approach in their feature¬†“Taking police officers out of mental health-related 911 rescues.”

Denver police officials said they are considering the model as an option to push beyond their existing co-responder program.¬†New York City is looking to the¬†program as ‚Äúa model for non-police response to non-criminal emergencies.‚ÄĚ

Salem nonprofits¬†are looking at the model for mobile crisis response.¬†“CAHOOTS¬†gets 2 percent of the police budget, but with that 2 percent they handle 17 percent of public safety calls,” said Ashley Hamilton, who’s helping spearhead the idea.

Rogue Valley law enforcement, mental health professionals and advocates, elected officials and other concerned community members gathered at the Medford Police Department to hear Tim Black talk via Skype about the program in September. In November, city commissioners are expected to discuss how the program would work in Portland.

The power of White Bird’s CAHOOTS program lies in its community relationships and the ability of first responders to simply ask, ‚ÄėHow can I support you today?‚Äô¬†White Bird Clinic is proud to be a part of spreading this type of response across Oregon and the rest of the United States. Please consider a donation to help us expand our model.

CAHOOTS Model Featured in Street Roots Newspaper article “Rethinking our first response”

Kaia Sands, Executive Director of¬†Street Roots, a Portland newspaper that creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty through media that is a catalyst for individual and social change, visited White Bird Clinic’s¬†mobile crisis support program, CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) this month.

In 2019, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Police Chief Danielle Outlaw and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s staff have all come to Eugene to learn about the CAHOOTS model response to non-criminal matters resulting from homelessness. Kaia joined our crisis worker and medic team for a shift and shared her story, available in PDF for download here with permission.

Street Roots visit to CAHOOTS helped to inform their plan for a Portland Street Response team.¬†This would be a non-law enforcement system of six well-marked mobile response vans teamed with a¬†specially-trained firefighter-EMT and peer support¬†specialist dispatched through both 911 and nonemergency¬†channels. Street Roots explores how these issues are being responded to in Portland and Eugene and how we can build a better system.¬†Read more (PDF)…

White Bird Clinic Stands in Solidarity with the Transgender Community 

White Bird Clinic stands in solidarity with our transgender/gender diverse clients, co-workers, and community members in affirming the validity of their existence and right to personally define and express their identities.

We resist any statement claiming that gender is a biological or immutable condition determined by genitalia. Both categories of sex and gender are infinitely diverse and complex in their expressions and cannot be limited to a binary system. To dictate how an individual personally identifies stands in direct conflict with our humanistic values of self-determination, freedom of expression, and valuing of diversity.

To our transgender/gender diverse clients, co-workers, and community members:

We see you in your diversity and complexity, we affirm your existence and your right to safety. We see the pain and harm created by statements that attempt to erase your existence. We will not stand idly by while those in power fan the flames of injustice, violence, and bigotry.

We are committed to providing accessible, safe, and affirming services to transgender and gender nonconforming people free from discrimination and in congruence with the recommendations of several highly regarded professional organizations:

  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • World Professional Association for Transgender Health
  • OHSU Transgender Health Program

‚Ķ..And many others, who recognize gender is expansive beyond a binary and is not determined by one’s genitalia and sex assigned at birth.

White Bird Clinic will stand true to our mission statement in continuing to enable all people to gain control of their social, emotional, and physical well-being. We recognize the innumerable harms that systemic injustice and marginalization have on an individual‚Äôs mental health, and we are committed to seeking progressive change‚ÄĒon an individual, community, and national level‚ÄĒto make health and well-being accessible to the most vulnerable populations.

To be truly committed to our mission, we recognize the need to speak out when those on a national level attempt to undermine the well-being, personal safety, and mental health of transgender and gender non-conforming people. We are proud of our clients, co-workers, and community members who are bravely authentic in their gender identities. In doing so, you are helping us all break free from restrictive gender norms and social categories that harm every one of us, in varying ways.

In gratitude, we will continue to speak up, serve our community, and fight for personal freedom. Until the Revolution!

Authored by the White Bird Clinic Queer Affinity Group

Serenity Lane Recognizes Kimber Hawes as “Unsung Hero” at Community Service Awards

Serenity Lane¬†honored White Bird’s Kimber Hawes in an award ceremony in honor of front line staff in our local recovery community as an Unsung Hero for the impactful work she does as a CAHOOTS worker.

Champions in the field of drug and alcohol treatment were recognized in the following categories:

  • Addiction Professional Award
  • Community Leadership Award
  • Dwight Lee Spiritual Advisor Award
  • Emergency Services Professional Award
  • Health Care Professional Award
  • Mental Health Professional Award
  • The Unsung Hero Award