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Community Groups

A group of diverse community members work together on a project.


CRS works directly with community groups as they seek to engage in collaborative processes with state and local government officials, law enforcement, school systems, and other organizations stemming from community conflict and hate incidents. Some ways CRS supports community groups are:

  • Facilitating meetings where community groups can effectively express their concerns to other stakeholders so they can develop mutually beneficial solutions
  • Co-hosting forums with community members, faith-based groups, and non-profit organizations to provide information on hate crimes and resources to help the community in the aftermath of hate crimes

Below are some recent examples of CRS's work with community groups. Additional case summaries may be found within CRS’s Annual Reports, located on the CRS Resource Center webpage.

Case Highlights

Lewiston, Maine, has a large and growing immigrant population, partially the result of secondary migration from other metropolitan areas in the United States. Recently, conflict has been on the rise between the immigrant population and the white community. Low-level tensions escalated in June 2018 when a fight erupted between white and immigrant residents over claims to Kennedy Park, a local gathering place. Tensions between the two groups simmered for several weeks. The situation culminated in a fight in which a white male died after being struck by a rock. State police believe race played a factor in the fight.

Following the June 2018 incident, the Lewiston chief of police requested CRS services to help ease racial tensions and strengthen community relations. Community leaders and city officials requested a City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) program for Lewiston and neighboring Auburn to address community tensions. CRS formed a working group and provided the group consultation services to help plan the City-SPIRIT program.

In October 2018, CRS returned to Lewiston to facilitate a community dialogue at Central Maine Community College, jointly convened by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine (USAO-ME) and the Lewiston chief of police for more than a dozen participants to discuss possible ways to address tensions in Lewiston and Auburn, including holding a City-SPIRIT program.

CRS continued providing the working group consultation services while they planned with upcoming City-SPIRIT program. In April 2019, CRS, with external assistance, facilitated the City-SPIRIT program in Lewiston for a diverse group of community members, including civic leaders and faith leaders.

In homogenous groups, participants identified issues impacting their community, including unspoken community tension and the need for more education on Islamic culture and practices. Then, participants re-formed into seven heterogeneous groups to develop solutions unique to their community, intended to reduce conflict, improve communication, and minimize the potential for future tensions. These proposed ideas included increased funding for English as a Second Language (ESL) training, creation of a cross-cultural community center, and cross-cultural events at schools and throughout the community to share different traditions, foods, and languages.

To encourage long-term success of the SPIRIT process, CRS returned to Lewiston and Auburn with the mayor’s support to attend and help facilitate meetings of a group, called the SPIRIT Council. As a step towards preventing future escalations and tensions, the Lewiston chief of police agreed to contact CRS whenever law enforcement make an arrest that could inflame race-based tensions in the city.

In October 2017, African American community leaders in Raytown, Missouri and the Kansas City Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) contacted CRS due to increased community tension following allegations that local law enforcement officers harassed and discriminated against the city’s only African American alderman on the basis of race. According to the allegations, the alderman was harassed during Board of Aldermen meetings and with comments on social media by law enforcement. The group that contacted CRS reported that Raytown’s African American residents felt unsafe in the city as a result of the alleged discrimination and harassment.

Following initial meetings, the Mayor of Raytown and NAACP representatives requested CRS’s assistance to facilitate the review and update of a 2004 CRS-mediated memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city of Raytown and the Kansas City Branch of the NAACP developed to help de-escalate race-based tensions in the city. CRS first worked with the NAACP separately from the city and the local law enforcement officials and then brought the groups together in mediation sessions and facilitated dialogues to address their concerns about updating the 2004 MOU.

Both the Mayor of Raytown and NAACP’s Kansas City Branch signed an updated MOU, which addressed the parties’ concerns regarding the lack of diversity of city employees and the need for more youth outreach to promote positive interactions between youth and city agencies. The MOU also addressed the allegations of racial profiling by police and the need to form a human relations commission to help resolve police-citizen complaints.

As part of the agreement, the City of Raytown committed to participate in a CRS City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) program “to invigorate community leaders with a passion for diversity in 2019.” CRS conducted the City-SPIRIT program in September 2019, bringing together approximately 20 participants, including city officials, law enforcement officials, faith leaders, and community groups. Participants discussed the lack of diversity among city employees and the allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement. They worked together to develop solutions to improve communication and minimize the potential for future conflict.

The neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, California, was experiencing heightened tensions due to recent police shootings of Latino community members and allegations from some residents of racial bias and excessive use of force by law enforcement. To help the city address these concerns, CRS facilitated a series of dialogues and provided technical assistance to help improve relations between the police and the community.

In February 2018, CRS facilitated the first in a series of working group meetings with city law enforcement and housing officials and representatives from local community organizations. The meeting focused on building trust and capacity for dialogue between law enforcement and the community in the aftermath of protests and demonstrations regarding local police treatment of Latinos. CRS helped the group identify its mission, audience, partners, facilitators, and next steps.

In May 2018, CRS co-facilitated with city officials a dialogue with a group of young men and women from a public housing complex in Boyle Heights known to experience gang-related activity. Residents raised concerns about alleged routine stops by police due to the residents’ proximity to gang members in the same complex. Based on these discussions, CRS helped create a working group with city officials, law enforcement, and representatives from the public housing complex with the goal of improving police-community relations in the area.

CRS worked with the city to create a model for building trust between the police and the Latino community through engagement and dialogue. The model implemented through the dialogue process continues to address community concerns and prevent future conflicts.

Resources for You

Police-Community Relations Toolkit: Policing 101 (PDF)

Police-Community Relations Toolkit: Guide to Critical Issues in Policing (PDF)

Contingency Planning Checklist (PDF)

Event Marshals Tipsheet (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum Facilitator Guide for Community Leaders  (PDF)

Protecting Places of Worship Forum Facilitator Guide for Community Leaders  (PDF)

Dialogue on Race Program Guide (PDF)

Facilitating Meetings Around Community Conflict (PDF)

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Muslim Americans (PDF)

Engaging and Building Partnerships with Sikh Americans (PDF)

Reducing Risk During Public Events: Contingency Planning (PDF)

Event Marshals: Maintaining Safety During Public Events (PDF)

Dialogue on Race (PDF)

School-Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (School-SPIRIT) (PDF)

City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) (PDF)

Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum (PDF)

Protecting Places of Worship (PDF)

Working with Law Enforcement and Communities (PDF)

Additional Resources and Informational Videos

Updated January 2, 2024