Dear NAFI/NFI Family, Friends and Board members,
The nation was rocked and deeply saddened by the cruel killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers last week. We know that the horror of this senseless act speaks to the work ahead that needs to be done to confront and counter racism and injustice. It is an ache that comes from our unresolved past as a nation that today sits sadly in the hearts of millions of Americans – a pain deeply rooted in discrimination. It exists in the inequalities in education, in our criminal justice system, and in the disproportionate toll of health issues and poverty endured by Brown and Black people.
We cannot create communities worth celebrating unless we can guarantee freedom from oppression for every person, regardless of his or her skin color, race or religion.
For the past fifteen years NAFI/NFI has developed and implemented a breakthrough program called the Youth & Police Initiative (YPI) with police departments in 31 cities that brings together teenagers and patrol officers to replace stereotyping and animosity with connection and trust. We have accumulated significant knowledge and research that shows police officers and the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect can build relationships that ameliorate conflict and bias. We know that there are many officers who can and will do the right thing when mechanisms of training and support are in place. But police departments are microcosms of our society. As long as racism and injustice occur, it must be countered in all aspects of our lives, including law enforcement.
As an organization that is built on fulfilling its mission of bringing healing and opportunity to all, we are committed to be inclusive and striving for diversity on every front. We will continue to work with police departments and challenged neighborhoods to usher in community policing strategies in which positive relationships strengthen justice that every person and community must ultimately have.
In a time when we all strive for a sense of normalcy and rekindling the ability to come together, please stay safe and healthy.
We remain committed to seeking equality for all and vigilant to injustice.
Dr. Yitzhak Bakal, President
North American Family Institute