The Bridge Initiative @ Moritz

Offering Communities Rapid Consultation on Processes for Addressing Community Conflict

Across the country, local government, law enforcement, and community leaders are grappling with increasing tensions associated with hate incidents and crimes, officer involved shootings, and other incidents that have a lasting impact on individuals as well as entire communities.  These local government and community leaders understand better than anyone the needs of their communities and share a sense of urgency to respond productively to civil unrest. And it is precisely in these times of crisis when the expertise of a mediator with experience developing processes that not only keep initial protests safe, but also offer a path towards engaging the entire community in realizing more systemic reform, is most valuable.

The Divided Community Project’s (DCP) Bridge Initiative @ Moritz, a project based at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, seeks to fill this need as identified by local government, law enforcement, and community leaders.  Upon request and at no cost, mediators and other experts with extensive experience in helping local leaders respond effectively to civil unrest and tension in communities across the country can help mediate conflicts between community and law enforcement, train local community members on effective strategies to keep protests safe, and offer technical assistance to executives and community members seeking to build sustainable infrastructure for inclusive engagement.  In addition to their expertise associated with addressing community conflict, as people from outside the community, it may be easier for mediators to introduce and facilitate processes to meet the needs as identified by all the different parties in a community.

While mediators may introduce and help facilitate processes, the power driving the processes always comes from local leaders in the community, and they produce real results.  Whether hosting tens of thousands in demonstrations without arrests or violence, or channeling demonstrators’ energies into planning improvements and tangible changes, working with mediators, local governments and leaders shape these processes as their own in order to help realize the full potential of their communities.

How to Contact the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz:

Please call or email DCP Director Becky Monroe at the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz: Monroe.1187@osu.edu  OR (614) 688-3918.

If you send an email or leave a message, please provide a number where you or someone you designate can be reached, and the best time to call the person.

Unless required by law, the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz will treat contact with you regarding an interest in potentially engaging our services as confidential.  This will apply to the provision of services as well.

Examples of How Mediators and Experts with DCP’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz Mediators Have Supported Community Leaders Addressing Division and Unrest

  • Facilitating conversations of a community’s leaders in the aftermath of an incident. Independent and trusted facilitators are exceptionally helpful in dealing with protest situations and have been used successfully in DCP executive committee and steering committee experiences in cities across the country following crisis events. Other facilitated dialogues could be open town hall meetings (following appropriate preparation), joint law enforcement-community sessions, and city resident-only meetings.
  • Mediate conflicts that arise between a) government officials and community groups and b) between protest groups. DCP personnel have had success doing so in numerous communities throughout the country. Mediators can help bring about rules of engagement between protest groups and law enforcement, a peaceful end to a standoff, agreed upon changes to police or governmental policies, or operational steps for improving organizations and outcomes.
  • Train groups to monitor their own rallies, protests and gatherings. By doing so you minimize risk of violence and maximize the ability of individuals to exert their first amendment right of free speech safely. The US DOJ’s Community Relations Service created the model training for these purposes. Other trainings could include mediation training for police officers
  • Consult with communities by providing referral to individuals and organizations who can help move the situation in a constructive and positive way. DCP personnel have experience in problem solving in communities by bringing in needed expertise.

Work with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service

The Bridge Initiative @ Moritz recognizes the expertise of the DOJ’s Community Relations Service, and intends its services to be complementary.  For example, if you engage with CRS, the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz may be able to help after CRS completes providing its services or support you in other ways. If you choose not to engage with CRS or CRS is unable to respond, the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz may be able to serve your needs.

Funding for the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz

Significant funding for the Bridge Initiative @ Moritz comes from the JAMS Foundation.The Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation Provides additional support.The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law provides significant in-kind support for this initiative.

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