Like many of you, we are feeling shock waves from the violence that has erupted in our community. When we learned that Daniel T. Prude’s death was ruled a homicide by the County Medical Examiner, we felt profound sorrow and distress. We grieve with the Prude family and extend our deepest condolences, as we join in the chorus of Rochester voices advocating for transparency, accountability, and justice.
For decades, Willow Domestic Violence Center has been deeply rooted in the Rochester community. As advocates for meaningful change, we sit at the intersection of criminal justice and social justice in our work to end domestic violence. We are deeply committed to nonviolence and a person-centered approach that runs deep in our work and our values, and we are worried for this vibrant community we call home.
Our advocates have fielded hotline calls from survivors in dangerous situations who are afraid to call 911. Everyone deserves to be safe. We all need to know, unequivocally, that our call to 911 in our time of need – whether a mental health crisis, a domestic violence incident or any reason at all – will be met with a compassionate response from officers who are sworn to serve and protect our community.
As an agency that partners closely with law enforcement against violence, we are actively working with police leadership to help ensure that everyone in our community feels safe to call 911. It is precisely because of our strong and continued partnerships with law enforcement that we stand against the use of excessive police force and in support of the truth that Black lives matter.
It is clear that as a community, we must improve our response to mental health needs. We feel strongly that our community can do better to eradicate violence from our daily lives by addressing the issues facing us directly, and through better collaboration and cooperation of the many public health, mental health, and safety organizations in our region.
What’s happening in our community and around the country at this moment is all connected. We are facing multiple pandemics simultaneously: coronavirus, unprecedented spikes in domestic violence, institutional and structural racism, and mental health and trauma at high levels. At Willow, we are no strangers to mental health crises, and we are committed to treating everyone with respect, dignity and care. Our staff members de-escalate tense situations on a regular basis. We see trauma every single day, and we fight to build resilience and healing in our community.
Today, we renew our commitment to nonviolence and anti-racism actions within our work at Willow and throughout our community. We will continue to champion initiatives that foster a community free from violence.
We must come together to root out racism in our lives, achieve equity and nurture a sense of belonging, dignity and respect for every member of our community.
In partnership for peace and justice,
Erica Tickle, Meaghan de Chateauvieux,
Board Chair President & CEO