My Neighbor's Keeper: Who Is Responsible for My Safety?
Youth & Violence
Thursday, July 19, 2018, 6:30PM - 8:30PM
Youth & Violence Edition
Some of us take safety for granted, some have their safety threatened everyday, and still some feel they are safe until those feelings are shattered by an unanticipated act of violence. While we have a visual language for safety, usually embodying various orange objects and signs, it is our shared interpretation and internalization of these symbols that create the safety we take for granted. Join SPACES for monthly discussions on the right and expectation to safety and how we as a community can work together to expand safety to all as we speak with marginalized groups and youth activists, discuss power dynamics, and focus on how we can change and do better together. FREE and open to the public.
In the United States, homicide remains the 3rd leading cause of death in young people ages 10 - 24, averaging about 12 victims each day, according to a 2016 CDC report. Of these homicides, 86% of these victims were killed with a firearm. Additionally, juveniles under the age of 18 account for over 10% of all violent crime arrests in the US. Join SPACES to explore how community members can help curtail youth gun violence and serve as better advocates for young Clevelanders.
MODERATOR Melissa Marini Švigelj-Smith (Educator)
Melissa Marini Švigelj (pronouns she, her, hers) has been an educator in Cleveland public high schools for two decades, and at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center for four years. Her blog msvigeljsmith.blog is part of a national network of education bloggers. Interviews with Melissa can be found in the archives of radio shows and podcasts, and in The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio's KQED blog, Mindshift. She presents at convenings and webinars nationwide, and consults education policy makers on behalf of students entangled in the juvenile justice system. She also recruits her four sons and therapy dog to join her in the fight for equity and justice for all.
Judge Denise Nancy Rini (Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court)
Judge Rini was elected to the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division in November 2012 and was seated on January 1, 2013. Since taking the bench, Judge Rini has worked to implement various initiatives focusing on the needs of the community, strengthening families, and providing services to the children of Cuyahoga County, such as Warrant Recall Fridays and CASA of Cuyahoga County. Judge Rini has taken on additional duties as the jurist for the Teen Drug Court, Safe Harbor Docket and supervises the Magistrate for Reentry Court. Judge Rini has spent her entire legal career focusing on Juvenile Court advocating for children and families of Cuyahoga County.
Meryl Johnson (State Board of Education)
Meryl Johnson is a retired teacher with 40 years of teaching experience in the Cleveland Public Schools. Ms. Johnson is an avid student advocate. During her years as a teacher, she helped students develop leadership skills by training them in mediation through the Winning Against Violent Environments (WAVE) Program, voter registration, letter writing to newspapers, and speaking at community forums. She also transported Student Council leaders to Columbus to lobby for fair school funding. Since her retirement, Ms. Johnson has taught student participants in the Upward Bound program every summer on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Case's campus is also where she hosts a weekly radio show called "It's About Justice." Ms. Johnson was elected to the State Board of Education in November 2016 and eligible for re-election November 2020.
Daniel Gray-Kontar (Twelve Literary)
Daniel is a poet, teacher, youth mentor, rapper, journalist, and the founder and executive artistic director of Twelve Literary Arts. He has worked as an advocate for social transformation in the city of Cleveland for more than 25 years.
Judge Je'Nine Nickerson (Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court)
Je'Nine Nickerson is the delinquency Magistrate to Judge Rini. She also serves as the Juvenile Re-Entry Court Jurist and the Juvenile Practice Chair for the Ohio Association of Magistrates. Je'Nine obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Case Western Reserve University in 2002, a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2005 and a Master in Business Administration from the Weatherhead School of Management in 2013. As a former foster care youth, Magistrate Nickerson feels blessed that court and community intervention in her life yielded a life-saving positive result.