Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP) is an abolitionist, Black liberatory project that organizes communities to resolve conflicts and help each other instead of calling the police.
Trigger Warning: Policy Brutality, Systemic Racism
Last year, Minneapolis was burning in the midst of demonstrations against the brutal police murder of George Floyd. Local organizer Jason Sole, who has spent more than two decades fighting against racist policing in the city of St. Paul, found himself responding to calls for help from his community. What emerged, as a result, was Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP). The group is an abolitionist, Black liberatory project that organizes communities to resolve conflicts and help each other—and hopes to make police intervention obsolete and unnecessary. REP is an example of what mutual aid can look like, Vice News reports.
A Minneapolis initiative called Relationships Evolving Possibilities is an abolitionist, Black liberatory project that organizes communities to resolve conflicts and help each other—and hopes to make police intervention obsolete and unnecessary. https://t.co/vUmW4EJZln— VICE (@VICE) November 22, 2021
"It was madness," Sole said of his initial time responding to calls for support during the protests; his trusted friend and fellow organizer Signe Harriday thus prompted the formation of a small group of longtime local organizers to streamline communications and facilitate mutual aid. "We were just saying, let’s start figuring out how we love and support the community no matter what's going on,” he said. “And that was the start of it." Therefore, REP was launched. Rather than relying on coercive violence from police and prisons, the group envisions a status quo of public safety wherein communities can solve their own problems by showing up for each other, utilizing the skills and resources they truly need.
New #Hotline Hopes to Divert Calls from the #Police— RacialReckoningMN (@ReckoningMN) November 3, 2021
Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP) is an abolitionist group that runs a #crisishotline which responds to non-violent #emergencies such as neighbor complaints or #welfarechecks.
#minneapolis #StPaul #Minnesota pic.twitter.com/V5DLinBEiX
In order to achieve this, REP forms "pods." These are collectives of residents usually already loosely in community with each other. REP then instructs pods on how to de-escalate situations, provide peer-to-peer mental health support, and practice other forms of transformative justice. This is done through ongoing training sessions. According to the group, people in a particular housing complex who go through conflict resolution training, for example, are better equipped to more easily address a noise complaint by communicating with each other face-to-face, rather than calling the police.
Furthermore, the pods establish connections across a diverse range of communities with different experiences. For instance, Sole, a professor who has formerly been incarcerated, is in pods with students and incarcerated people. Roxanne Anderson, another core member of REP, is connected to musicians and LGBTQ+ communities. Harriday, meanwhile, organizes with BIPOC LGBTQ+ artists, activists and healers to support the community with respite and retreat on a farm. Nonetheless, there are certain crises and problems that these pods cannot address by themselves because they exist within a carceral society.
At the moment, REP cannot respond to calls dealing with domestic abuse, medical crises and anything involving active violence. Nonetheless, the group has rolled out a hotline called Revolutionary Emergency Partners that responds to “non-violent” emergency calls on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 PM to midnight. The group also trains volunteers to handle things like noise complaints, mental health crises, and neighbor disputes, and to refer people to other community services as a result of funding and grants. Eventually, REP hopes to expand their services. “REP doesn't profess or claim to be the solution to all the harm and trauma facing and circulating in the community,” Harriday shared. “We lean on abolitionists past and present, who also didn't have a perfect next step plan but who nonetheless fought like hell for us.” The group is hopeful about the future. Sole affirmed, "People are gonna start figuring out their own safety mechanisms. After a while, you're gonna look at police call logs and say, ‘Man, a lot of y'all calls get diverted to groups like REP and other groups that are going to form.’”
Relationships Evolving Possibilities is building out community-based responses to domestic violence, mental health crisis, and conflict to make Minneapolis safer without the violence of policing. Learn more at: https://t.co/H9atTBEBrE. #Yeson2 pic.twitter.com/RBCs9uHXnc— Andrea Ritchie (@dreanyc123) October 22, 2021