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1,000 Eyes - A Proposal

Posted by Elwin Green on September 10, 2013 at 5:05 PM

This post is addressed to my neighbors in Homewood...Greetings!


I want to propose a long-term, coordinated, community-wise response to the violence that resurged in Homewood last month.


I propose a campaign in which residents take a pledge to provide law enforcement with information.


We all know that there are people in Homewood, other than the actors themselves, who could provide the police with useful information. We also all understand that some people fear retribution if they tell what they know.


One way to combat that fear is by allowing people to share information anonymously. We can use both the silent complaint form and 311 to do that. There is a measure of safety in anonymity.


The campaign that I am proposing would take advantage of the fact that there is also a measure of safety in numbers.


The key to this campaign would be to have so many people ready to provide information that no one would be able to tell who provided what information.


A second key is that while the actual information-sharing would be private and anonymous, the campaign itself would be HYPER-public.


Hyper-public means that we kick it off with a gathering in a large space, with every newspaper, television station and news station in town on the scene.


As they enter, each attendee receives a silent complaint form. Someone provides instruction about how to use them, and about how to use 311 to make anonymous tips.


And before they leave, the entire room stands and a recites a pledge that includes language like, "When I see something, I will say something. What I know, law enforcement will know."


(In light of the Jordan Miles case, etc., the pledge would also include language about holding law enforcement accountable, by saying something when we see police misconduct.)


The primary message of the campaign will be addressed to the criminals: There are more of us than there are of you.


They will not be impressed by 15 or 20 people having a meeting and taking a pledge.


To really put them on notice, I say we need 500 people, MINIMUM.


And after the pledge, we need ways to keep those 500 people engaged, encouraged, and confident that what we are all doing together will work.


Encouraging elements would include


A name for the campaign: "A Thousand Eyes."


A logo: a pair of eyes staring out. Those who feel confident could wear T-shirts with this logo. Otherwise, teams of volunteers could saturate Homewood with flyers. We could get the nonprofits to include the logo in their printed materials. Merchants could have posters or decals in their windows. Speaking of decals, we could offer them for peoples cars. Etc.


Theme music: With all the musical talent in Homewood, I think somebody could craft a short, catchy theme.


(Or, we could ask Sony's permission to adapt Hall and Oates' "Private Eyes" - "A thousand eyes are watching you, they see your every move.")


We would also need a way for people to encourage each other to keep the pledge. I don't have any specific ideas yet about how to do that.


Another piece of this would be keeping media informed, long after the big initial meeting, that the campaign continues, and that we will not surrender.


How long would "1,000 Eyes" last? Until the data from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police make us confident that we've turned the corner on making Homewood a safe community.


If we move forward with "1,000 Eyes", we must conduct it in a way that makes it clear that it is about US - residents using our own power to exercise our own responsibility for our own community. Everyone behind the campaign must understand, and communicate, that not only can residents do this, but that we are the ONLY ones who can do it.


I'm hosting a meeting next Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6 pm, on the second floor of Homewood Carnegie Library for flesh out this idea with any and all Homewood residents who want to strategize. If you do not live in Homewood, but would like to contribute to the process, I ask you to join us for the Sept. 19 meeting of Block Watch Plus, at 6 pm in the south conference room at the YMCA.

Got that? Residents - Tues., Sept 17, second floor, Carnegie Library; Non-residents, join us Thurs., Sept. 19, south conference room, YMCA.

And of course, if you're reading this, you can provide input here and now.  How can we improve the concept? What would you be willing to do to help make it work? Share your thoughts below

EDIT, 09-11-13: NOTE: Some people who come here via Facebook will read something here, then respond on Facebook. That deprives other Homewood Nation readers of your input, and makes it harder for all of us to know what each of us is saying. I DEEPLY APPRECIATE every FB share and like, but please share your thoughts about this below, not just on Facebook. Thanks! 

Categories: Public Safety, Citizenship and Governance