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As police departments across the country work to repair and bolster their relationships with communities, a citizen group in New York City is aiming to bring residents, particularly people of color, together with the NYPD through yoga and meditation. They point to research suggesting that those activities may indirectly work to counteract racial biases. Ivette Feliciano reports.
This might look like an average Saturday morning yoga session inside Brooklyn, New York's Fort Greene -park. But these participants are made up of local residents and the police officers who serve their community.
Organizers Deborah Kim and Tina Paul, who run workplace mindfulness and meditation trainings across the U.S., say they wanted to improve relations between the NYPD and communities of color, like theirs.
We felt defeated by the news and we wanted to do something in our community. So we reached out to our local precinct.
And then it just became sort of like a mission.
They met with the police chiefs across New York, sharing a growing body of research which says that in addition to reducing stress hormones yoga and meditation can also decrease racial biases and discriminatory behaviors.
COLLEEN QUINN, NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER:
All day long, every hour, you're answering however many jobs. You're seeing traumatic things. If I don't have an outlet, where does it go? This helps me not take in that energy and put it on other people.
The organizers believe is the first event in the country to bring police and civilians together for yoga and meditation.
I think that it could serve to humanize the police a little bit more so that people feel more comfortable talking to police officers and so there is less of a tension between civilians and cops.
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Ivette Feliciano shoots, produces and reports on camera for PBS NewsHour Weekend. Before starting with NewsHour in 2013, she worked as a one-person-band correspondent for the News 12 Networks, where she won a New York Press Club Award for her coverage of Super Storm Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast in 2012. Prior to that, Ivette was the Associate Producer of Latin American news for Worldfocus, a nationally televised, daily international news show seen on Public Television. While at Worldfocus, Ivette served as the show’s Field Producer and Reporter for Latin America, covering special reports on the Mexican drug war as well as a 5-part series out of Bolivia, which included an interview with President Evo Morales. In 2010, she co-produced a documentary series on New York’s baseball history that aired on Channel Thirteen. Ivette holds a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in broadcast journalism.
Zachary Green began working in online and broadcast news in 2009. Since then he has produced stories all over the U.S. and overseas in Ireland and Haiti. In his time at NewsHour, he has reported on a wide variety of topics, including climate change, immigration, voting rights, and the arts. He also produced a series on guaranteed income programs in the U.S. and won a 2015 National Headliner Award in business and consumer reporting for his report on digital estate planning. Prior to joining Newshour, Zachary was an Associate Producer for Need to Know on PBS, during which he assisted in producing stories on gun violence and healthcare, among others. He also provided narration for the award-winning online documentary series, “Retro Report”.
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