Walking the Beat is a creative writing, theater, and multi-media workshop for students grades 9-12 and local police officers, designed to establish a groundwork for conversation and create real, achievable actions for specific communities across the country. The work includes, but is not limited to, the following themes:
1. Spiritual grounding, self-care, restorative practice
2. The history of policing
3. The Ferguson Moment
4. Police reforms and alternative emergency response systems
5. Abolition (Schools/Prisons/Police) – advocacy and art
6. Dream building
Tackling the Epidemic: In 2016, The Guardian reported a total of 1,093 people killed by police officers in the United States. 449 of those murdered were of Black and Hispanic descent. According the Washington Post, 34% of those shot and killed were unarmed Black males. The Post also reported that Black males were three times more likely to get shot and killed than White males. On the flip side, in 2016 there were 63 police officers killed by gunfire, according to the Officer Downs Memorial Page. As these numbers continue to grow, so does the lack of trust between police officers and people of color. The anxiety felt in the presence of police officers, as a young African- American male, innocent of any crime, is real. And as an arts organization, we challenged ourselves to ask: what could we do to fix this? How can the arts be used as a tool to tackle these issues? We’ve chosen to do this with creative courage. Healthy civilian-police relations are vital to achieving vibrant communities. The Walking the Beat project works to reinforce positive interactions between police and young people through facilitated dialogue and improvisation. The residency brings local police officers together with high school students to devise a piece of theater focused on community policing. What most excites EYTE is having mobilized a large group of police officers in Elizabeth New Jersey. These officers are now excited about getting to know the young people in their community. And the students who participated are continuing to cultivate these relationships in their communities.