AUCKLAND — A new community center dedicated to serving people at risk without police assistance opened Saturday morning in West Auckland.
While many are calling for more police to fight the gun violence ravaging Auckland, another group sees police as a problem. The Anti-Police Terrorism Project (APTP) has called for defunding law enforcement and diverting half of the funds given to OPD to mental health and wellness services. Many find that unrealistic, but on Saturday the effort became very real.
“We are making a promise to this community by opening these doors,” said APTP co-founder Cat Brooks when announcing the opening of “The People’s House.” community centers offer health and wellness services ranging from massages and herbal medicines to psychological counseling by volunteer mental health professionals.
“You really think it’s a healing center, don’t you?” Brooks said. “A balm for communities ravaged by everything from gentrification to pollution to poverty to gun violence.”
The building will also be home to Mental Health First, a volunteer team that responds to mental health crises without police being notified. Coordinator Rebecca Lewis says it can defuse a tense situation in ways the police can’t.
“So for me, it’s very different from the police facing the situation. Sometimes they brutalize people, they try to jail them, they don’t listen to what they’re going through,” she said. I got
Mental Health First is not part of the 9-1-1 system and should be called directly, but Dr. Daniela Kantorova said she was busy calling from 8pm to 2am on Friday night. increase.
“People in crisis call us directly, but we also get calls from their families, neighbors and even people on the street,” said Dr Cantrois. “So people are calling us, not the police, so I think it’s a success.”
“For many of us, it doesn’t matter how many times you can call 9-1-1 and not get a badge or warning about what’s going on in front of them.” said Brooks. They are never going to dial that number because their experience has taught them that it is dangerous to dial that number, even when they are in danger. ”
The anti-police terrorism project opened the center without city support and has, in fact, been at great odds with the local government. That may be changing, as the new mayor told the crowd that Sheng Thao attended the event and was not expected or even welcomed by the previous mayor.
“We are very pleased to have spoken with ATPT and Mental Health First to see how we can partner, and we look forward to these conversations,” said Thao.
ATPT says it has been operating in Auckland for over 10 years. They say the opening of People’s House is a promise that they will stay here.