To our community:
In recent weeks many in the community have raised important questions on how NOC handles issues of gender and sexual violence, both as it relates to accusations of staff and members and questions about how we intend to keep community safe. We appreciate our communities for holding us accountable and making sure we take proactive and necessary steps in addressing these issues. We want to apologize to the broader community for our delay in responding and our lack of transparency on these issues, and acknowledge where we’ve fallen short in addressing community concerns. We are committed to being more transparent and publicly accountable to our community going forward.
Gender and sexual violence of any kind is destructive to our communities, our organizing environment and our sense of social justice. People who commit acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or domestic abuse are not welcome in our spaces. It is vital to us that people who have been harassed, assaulted, and abused feel comfortable and safe in our spaces. We know that victims of gender and sexual violence are often marginalized and silenced by forces more powerful than themselves. NOC is committed to not perpetuating this culture of marginalization and silencing. We acknowledge that we must be more thoughtful and less reactionary in responding to community concerns. We must, and will, do more to make sure survivors feel safe in our space and feel safe speaking out.
We’ve dealt with issues of gender and sexual violence before, in a process ranging from outside mediation, to firing staff and removing people from our work entirely, and even pursuing legal actions against abusers. With every reported incident, we've researched the incident and structured a deliberate internal process when appropriate. Utilizing an internal process has kept the organization operationally sound, and it's not been sufficient. One of our many errors has been to deliberately limit access to information that could have been made public. The net impact has been that the community has no way of knowing the actions we've taken to keep our folks safe. We’ve not been transparent enough in communicating our internal processes, and the community’s trust has at times eroded because of it.
Going forward, we are committed to a publicly accountable transformative justice process that is both transparent and confidential. Complaints involving staff or others affiliated with NOC will go through an independent investigation rooted in a transformative justice model. Through this process, we are committed to creating safer paths for folks to come forward, while acknowledging and alleviating the trauma that coming forward can elicit. This approach will result in thoughtful recommendations about next steps, including any disciplinary or legal action.
We are also committed to a public engagement process to answer questions and help shape our response to these issues, including a public meeting in the next few weeks to hear from community members and folks directly impacted. We will share more details about this public meeting and our transformative justice process in coming days and weeks.
We recognize this statement will not and cannot answer all questions. We see this as the first step in a new process of community accountability and transparency. NOC has worked hard over the years to become a highly valued movement space and we’ve set a very high bar for our work. The work itself is built on the belief that those who are most marginalized need to be listened to, supported, nurtured, and protected, not just in the world but in our organizing spaces as well. We know we can do better in realizing these values -- and we will. Thank you for holding us accountable to the collective work we do in the community. We owe it to you and to ourselves to be better, and we will be.
We are proud to endorse Jillia Pessenda for Minneapolis City Council, Ward 1.
Jillia is a longtime NOC member we first met through the Occupy movement. She has a brilliant instinct and proven track record for understanding policy related problems and working tirelessly until the problem is solved.
Through Occupy Homes, Jillia worked closely with NOC to bring the energy of the Occupy movement to support the people who were most impacted by the big banks’ policies -- homeowners facing unjust foreclosure. Jillia worked with homeowners and renters who were fighting to keep their homes, helping them navigate paperwork, bank policy, and city government, and led public pressure campaigns to change the policies forcing people out of their homes. She represented NOC in a coalition to pass the Minnesota Homeowner Bill of Rights, one of the strongest sets of homeowner protections in the country, which passed in May 2013 with near unanimous support.
Jillia’s demonstrated ability to combine service work, organizing, and policy solutions make her uniquely qualified to serve on the Minneapolis City Council. She leveraged the skills she used with Occupy Homes to help legalize urban agriculture on the Minneapolis City Council, while working with NOC to turn vacant city-owned lots into community gardens, and to the Capitol to work to pass marriage equality. She’s shown a remarkable ability to solve problems at both the individual and systemic level. Her leadership is exactly the approach we need on the Minneapolis City Council.
Jillia’s answers to our questionnaire revealed a complex understanding of how different systems impact our lives and how policy can help to change those systems. She understands how a lack of affordable childcare impacts our policing system, and how over policing leads to mass incarceration which limits participation in democracy. She understands how to get to the root of a problem and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, like fighting for a $15 minimum wage with no tip penalty and creating public safety models beyond policing, even before these issues became politically popular.
NOC members who are Ward 1 residents told us resoundingly in our caucus survey that Jillia is their choice to represent them on the City Council. We are thrilled to endorse her as our next Ward 1 City Council Member.
NOC is proud to endorse Alondra Cano for Minneapolis City Council, Ward 9.
Alondra stands out as one of the strongest and most consistent voices for racial and economic justice on the Minneapolis City Council. She was one of the first council members to support a $15 minimum wage and one of only two council members to vote to put the $15 minimum wage question to voters on the ballot in 2016. Her fierce leadership has helped pave the way for the current city council to pass a $15 minimum wage policy with no tip penalty this summer.
Alondra has been a leader on the issues that matter most to her constituents, from workers’ rights to environmental justice to strong protection for immigrants and expanding sanctuary cities. She has led the way on a resolution to divest from Wells Fargo. Her sharp eye in budget negotiations alerted the community to cuts to equity programs and an initiative to fortify the 4th precinct police station in the wake of the Jamar Clark shooting. She is rooted deeply in community and has an innate understanding of the need to incorporate constituent voices at City Hall.
Alondra’s fierce, unapologetic, and honest voice on the City Council has allowed for greater community participation in the political process. She is not afraid to call out dirty politics and has stood up for herself and our community despite a series of personal attacks on her character. She understands the symbiotic relationship between policy and social movements, and how we must use both in tandem to build the city we deserve. In the age of Donald Trump Alondra knows that true sanctuary lies not just in city policy, but in inspiring city residents to take risks to stand up for each other -- and has worked to deliver on both.
Alondra’s questionnaire responses show the importance of applying an intersectional racial justice lens to every piece of city government. She understands that the police are too often acting as a catch-all solution to any problem, and that we need to invest in alternative public safety methods that prioritize the mental health and chemical dependency related needs of the community.
NOC members who are Ward 9 residents told us resoundingly in our caucus survey that Alondra is their choice to represent them on the City Council. We are proud to endorse her re-election as Ward 9 City Council Member.