tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN May 13, 2015 9:00am-11:01am EDT
our next section of the safe schools goals, increasing the high school graduation rate. we know those incarcerated read at about a third grade reading level or less, so our third graders in long beach, we're dedicated to making sure they continue to read at grade level all the way through high school. so we're looking at increasing performance in english language arts, and math. increasing school attendance increasing parent participation and, of course last but not least, increasing safety in and around schools. this is probably one of the work groups that's most near and dear to my heart and this goal the safe communities goals. this is where we work with community residents, and we help them get outside of the four walls of their home or apartment and begin to take ownership of their community. when we surveyed community residents, time and time again they said i want to know the police officers who work in the
police beat where i live. i need to know my neighbors better. they actually told us they want to get out and get to know each other. we're looking at increasing community resident engagement in our high-crime neighborhoods, activating neighborhood associations who have been latent for many years. we have free cleanup assistance tree planting beautification projects for up to $5,000 grants. there's so many things our city is offered and what i have found in my presentations in those neighborhoods in long beach, those neighbors don't even know these programs exist. so our job as a city is to go door to door and activate those residents to come to the association meetings and to begin to reform their neighborhoods from the inside out. we all know that unemployment is an issue as well. we overlaid the map of unemployment rates with poverty. those same census track high poverty, high levels of unemployment. how do we develop a strategy that we go door to door and
ensure our unemployed residents in the city have access, that the youth in the neighborhoods have access to summer jobs and increasing that -- increasing the activation for adults knowing about the programs but also a call to action to our business community to provide internships and jobs for your community residents. and last but not least collaborating with our law enforcement. this is very important to our work. that we work with them as they do enforcement and suppression to hold accountable the adults who are committing acts of violence against other human beings holding them accountable for their actions in these particular neighborhoods, and ensuring that the 99% of the people who live in the neighborhood who aren't committing acts of violence are safe where they live. sorry about that. and at this point i would like to turn it over to doug haubert who will finalize our presentation. thank you. [ applause ] >> as you can see, long beach has an ambitious plan, a plan
that can only be accomplished with an unprecedented level of cooperation from multiple participants. the list here are the core members who have worked together to create the plan and then to implement the plan. you will notice that long beach has a state university, long beach state university as a key component of that. the city of long beach has a number of departments that are now working together for a common goal. we also have county players county probation the district attorney's office, the sheriff's department. we have hospitals. long beach memorial hospital and st. mary's hospital two very large institutions among many others working together and for the first time at least in my life working together in the same room for the same goal, all oars in the water rowing in the same direction. i would add, i didn't mention him earlier, but we have another partner and that's the long beach ministers alliance. we have today with us pastor greg sanders, the president of the long beach ministers
alliance. thank you for coming an joining us. [ applause ] very briefly, long beach had had a lot of activity before, but it wasn't aligned together for the common goal of coordinating efforts to prevent violence, but as you see in a very short period of time, long beach has aligned its efforts to work in this area. back in may of 2014 the city council adopted its violence prevention plan called safe long beach. shortly thereafter the city prosecutor's office, my office received a significant grant from the department of justice for our anti-gang strategy, which is a strategy that does not solely rely on suppression but actually has prosecutors working on intervention and rehabilitation of former gang members. the city is has now aligned the grip grant it gets to coordinate with the violence prevention plan. both the city of long beach and the school bard have accepted the challenge of president
obama's my brother's keeper initiative and we have consolidated programs so they can work efficiently under one department, the neighborhood relations division, which is new for the city of long beach. our slides aren't working there. >> i know. >> i have used the word alignment a few times but i think that's important because we found in the city of long beach, we had a lot of resources, and maybe you find the same in your communities, but people don't know about the resources. the word silo has been used where organizations, nonprofits, even departments within the same city are doing similar things, but they're not doing it in a coordinated effort. for our first step and our next step is to align these services so there's better interaction among these groups. to secure resources to make sure that these are sustainable projects, and, finally, to increase capacity so we can continue to do the things that work right. so find out what we have, align it together secure more
resources, and increase capacity. those are our next steps here in long beach. finally, our contact information is here but i especially want to thank the department of justice for making this opportunity available to all of the cities working together both within the city and sharing information across city lines. we're going to be able to do far more than we could by ourselves. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> thank you to the city of baltimore and the city of long beach for sharing the work that you're doing on the ground. next we will have sediqua reynolds, chief of community building from the city of louisville. [ applause ] >> good morning. >> good morning.
>> all right. i am sediqae reynolds chief for community building, as you just heard, in the city of louisville and very excited about this work. i want to let you know that the agencies -- first of all, mayor fisher could not be here today. he had a prior obligation, but let me assure you that our mayor is very committed to this work, very committed to violence prevention whether it relates to youth, adults everyone in our community. the desire is that we would have a safe and healthy community where all children are really allowed to thrive. so i just want to be clear about the mayor's commitment today, but it is really a pleasure for me to be here and to represent him. in louisville we focus on suicide, overdose and homicides because we believe that violence even against one's self is something we need to be thinking about and dealing with. and we use the public health lens when we really talk about violence in our community. if we could just start -- i would like to use the slides a little bit. i'll be honest and tell you all
that i have decided to abandon most of the use of my slides but we'll start with this one. because i think it's important. so i want to talk a little bit about what happened in louisville and how we started this work. i assume there's a timekeeper somewhere. okay. perfect. all right. so in louisville we started first with the trayvon martin/george zimmerman incident and i think it is just worth noting if any of you all haven't heard yet, that mr. zimmerman's car was shot up yesterday. he had another incident, this with a citizen so we'll just see how this plays out. i think this country owes some sort of public apology to the martin family, but i know we're not here for that. just thought i'd throw that in for free. just because we didn't support enough as far as i'm concerned. but anyway so when we were waiting for whether or not there would be an indictment in the martin -- in the zimmerman matter, we had some concern in
our community that if, in fact something were to happen and there were no indictment what would happen in our community, and there were many people who said that's in florida, has nothing to do with us we're in louisville, kentucky, but many of us said no and the mayor himself said wait a minute, we are connected, and this will matter, and people may respond. and we had to be sure that we had established trust because that's the first thing that you have to do is make sure there is trust and relationship in the community, so the first time you're out front it can't be to ask people to please calm down, please don't burn my city down. you really -- they've got to have a level of trust. so we put together a group of folks, the mayor actually convened, and i love that the mayor is heres here earlier said we are the con sense of the community and so we ought to do that. and so nvenths, our mayor did brought together many, many leaders, many, many faith leaders also, and we talked
about what might happen if there were no indictment. because of that work and because of the conversations when there was, we did not have the outbreak. we did have protests it our community but i'm so proud to say i participated in those things and that i worked for a mayor who understood that i also needed to vent. so even with everything to lose, i felt this stress. and so we have to acknowledge that thing inside of many of us that causes you to feel discomfort when you see injustice. we did that in louisville. that was good because about a month later we had a triple homicide where literally we had someone murdered in front of the police, in front of the cameras and we were able to very quickly convene that same group and then some to talk about the work, and so then the mayor asked for a violence prevention report to be written, and we were very very careful about who wrote that. one had to be co-authored by the public health department, right,
because we use the public health lens, but the other thing, we got a professor from the university of louisville who had been a longtime advocate in the community. we did that because we knew that the community would understand he could not be co-opted, and we needed this to be valid and validated just from the onset. one of the recommendations in that report was that we hire someone to work with violence prevention, and we did that and anthony smith is our director for safe and healthy neighborhoods, and he is here today. stand up. [ applause ] he leads the work. he won't even stand up. there we go. all right. he leads this work in our community, but when he started, the people in the community said, don't call his job the director for violence prevention. we don't want that. we're not a violent community. so we changed the name. we heard them and we call him the director for safe and healthy neighborhoods, and while we have a public health lens let me be clear that in louisville kentucky, anthony
smith's office is in the mayor's office because he has the power to convene just like mayor greg fisher does, and so when anthony smith calls a director, if he needs data, if he needs information, if he needs resources, they respond because the next call will be from hopefully the mayor not from me. they'd be lucky. but anyway. the point is this work is important. so we went through that and i want to talk to you -- everybody is showing the maps, and i love them, and the reality is here we know what happens, right? when you have a poor community all of the worse things are happening in that community. when rich folks get a cold, everybody else got the flu. we get that, right? we understand. i changed it up a little bit. work with me. so we worked on increasing summer jobs. we had no funding for summer jobs. so the mayor went out and every time he gave a speech he really
shamed folks into creating internships, creating positions. we raised money for 1,500 summer jobs through private/public partnerships. [ applause ] thank you. and those jobs were targeted, right, in the area. so if we're making the news every night, we want to give folks resources. you don't get to say this is bad, this is bad and this is bad and when you have the resources use them somewhere else. we really tried to target that with our summer jbs. we have a coordinating council between the school system, the mayor's office and metro united way. it's an out of school time coordinating council. what that means -- listen to that, the school system, metro united way, and the mayor's office. do you know how many out of school time organizations we fund? if we just change how we -- the requirements on giving the money, we can change some of the work. so we can headache sure that ost providers have trauma informed training. do you understand?
so they understand what's happening when these young people are coming to them and saying that i'm abused. because what are we dealing with? 1 in 4 or 1 in 6 young people have been sexually molested. we have to have out of time school providers that understand that, that get that, and can respond to that and they don't retraumatize them. we also have -- we've had coding classes, actually the president of the united states stopped by louisville last month. messed up all the traffic but we were thrilled to have him. and, you know, he came in and said thank you for the coding classes, for providing this opportunity to youth because everybody is not going to go to college. and guess what? if you learn how to code you'll make more money than the mayor probably. so keep it moving. we have a health department fellows program. we actually pay young people to come and look at public health issues in the community. come tell us what will work for you, and we give them a stipend at the end of the summer. it's very competitive. we have an application process. they all have to be interviewed.
they have to commit to 100% attendance. they have to commit to 100% attendance. they do that. so we had another incident in louisville. we had an incident out on the waterfront, and so it's one thing when you're in a poor community and you protest and tear stuff up. it is another thing when you go downtown, and we got folks coming in. that's a different story. people all of a sudden pay attention. now it matters and so we capitalized on that, and i hope that baltimore and ferguson i know they're doing this right, when people are scared -- i mean, they're already scared. just tell them, you got to invest now. you don't get to do nothing. we need money. the language, the dialogue, the conversation is good but we need funding, and so what we got, of course was increases in police right, because they always get that but i love chief conrad in louisville, kentucky, because he
said we're going to need money for prevention and intervention also. so we get it that the police are just the band-aid. what are we doing on the other end? for us we increased the hours of our community centers. we extended the hours. oh, lord five minutes. we allowed folks to have hot meals. because we understand that when school is out, these kids are not eating. so we serve breakfast and lunch except in the areas where we had teenagers, we didn't do breakfast because they weren't getting up okay? so we did lunch and hot dinners. we went through that and what we saw was in the zip codes where we extended the community center hours, we actually saw a decrease in citations and a decrease in arrests, and it matters about the program. so it's worth investing in. also our mayor allows two hours a week for every city employee to serve as a mentor. two hours a week on the clock. [ applause ]
we have a right turn grand where we're trying to get young people with career counseling and also one to one mentors. this is something i love. our school system has created an equity scorecard because we recognize the disproportionality with the suspensions and all that. they allowed us to sit in the room as the code of conduct was revised, but this is the big deal. about three weeks ago we had a celebration for every boy of color with a 3.0 and above in our community. social media didn't love it but they needed that because when do we get to talk about the dignity data? when do we talk about what is right? we have got to begin celebrating what is great about the young people that we are trying to save and engage and about our
own communities. i asked at the mayor's office how many of you all saw selma? i asked because constantly we have all of these negative images about who we are as a people of color. but where is the positive? how many people in the majority have to go out, see learn. because it matters. it impacts how you interact, and so i think that's important. we have the same goals. i mean just generally speaking, create and promote opportunities for civic engagement improve conditions that hinder educational attainment support economic growth in the communities with the challenges enhance quality interventions promote restorative justice. we have restorative justice both in the school system and in the community. another thing that we're doing we had a young person who found her mother dead, and so we talked about it and said i bet when you're mother is murdered in the middle of the night, the school system is notified. but what are we doing for the
kids that are exposed to violence all night and don't get to bed until 3:00 in the morning? i'm going to tell what you louisville is doing. we pulled some staff person from what her normal job is. she now serves as the liaison between the school system and the police department. when a child has been exposed to violence, we call the school and say anthony smith, watch -- we don't tell them -- and sometimes we have kids that may be seen as the aggressor. the point is there was violence in the home. we want the school to know. we want them to treat them like they're human, right? we have to work with that. i think we have phenomenal teachers but the reality is people come to us with stuff and we want to be able to respond to that. so hopefully we'll see a reduction in suspensions. here is what we've already seen. our school system has increased the number of mental health providers. that is phenomenal. 13, 17, great work. [ applause ] we have 40 partners in our
community that are working on issues around children exposed to violence. this work is really being led by our center for women and families, but it's children exposed to violence because as everybody has pointed out here, that is important work and we understand that. we have -- our u.s. attorney is here, john kuhn. can you just stand up? because the man is here. [ applause ] and he is with us constantly. he is creating a re-entry court in the federal court system re-entry. because we understand how important it is. people are coming back into the community. they need to be supported. we also have another advisory committee member here, president of the imc, our faith leader reverend vincent james. if you can stand up, please. [ applause ] thank you. and i think it's just important to celebrate partners.
we have tons of partnerships. anthony told me if i didn't do one slide, i had to do this one. let me follow instructions. partnerships matter. here are all -- this is not all this is just some of the partner that is we have in louisville. we have implemented 1,000 books before kindergarten. you name it. and then what we try to do here is benchmark. this is really important. we come to these conversations to steal. we want to take whatever you do best, and we would like to do it in louisville. we think you are brilliant people, and we would like to follow your lead and we hope that if we have something to share, that you will take it from us. at the end of the day we just want somebody else to live. that's what this is all about and so we are working every day we are meeting with our police chief, we are adjusting, we are planning, we are doing we are checking, we are acting constantly to make sure that this work gets done and it gets done in the right way.
and so i just want to tell you one other thing. our advisory committee is made up of not only u.s. attorney, commonwealth attorney county attorney, but we have some unlikely suspects. the ceos of the banks and initially you might have people go, why am i here? but they get it. because let me explain and this is what we say very clearly do you think that anybody in ferguson is not a part of this solution? do you know how many conversations gotconferences got canceled because of people's outrage and feelings of hopelessness? what happens when you have a community with vacant and abandoned property and boards on the doors? we have got to do something to help heal what is wrong in america. so this is what we're doing in louisville. i hope that you can take something home with you and i thank you all so much for the time. [ applause ]
>> thank you. we do hope that you all steal share, network, and just take the strategies and ideas from each other. that's why we're here. next we will have hoke kim. the depp tiputy mayor from seattle followed by michael walker and tonette parilla from cleveland. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> this is a good looking crowd. my name is hoke kim deputy mayor for the city of seattle and i'm very honored to be here on behalf of mayor ed murray. i wanted to share kind of
efforts that seattle is taking under mayor murray's leadership both in building off of the strong foundation of work that our city has been doing since 2009 on the issue of youth violence prevention but also taking advantage of some unique opportunities that our mayor was really presented with when he came into office last january. but before i go into my slide presentation, i thought it might be helpful to set a little context for what seattle is looking like today, and by that i mean when mayor murray took office last january of 2014, seattle received a distinction of being in 2013 the fastest growing large city in the united states. it was also the city that had
seen the steepest increase in rents among large metropolitan cities that same year. our city is a city that is -- has a rich diversity, that is -- that goes beyond black and white. our city population roughly about 15% of our city population consists of asian-american specific islanders. roughly historically we've had 8% to 9% african-american. latino population a bit smaller at 5% and native americans historically have been the urban indian population has been about 2%. that diversity belies a lot of tensions that our city is experiencing, like so many other cities across the nation, as we deal with development and growth. we have parts of our city that arediverse. a few years ago after the 2010
census one of our zip codes, 99118 zip code, was declared as one of the most diverse zip codes in the country. other zip codes have since sort of fought for that distinction and yet seattle is known as a city because roughly 70% of the city is white, as also very segregated in how our city lives, and when mayor murray took office last year there was a lot that was very wonderful about the opportunities that were present in our city, but there were also significant challenges, and one of those challenges that the mayor identified fairly early on was the issue of income inequality, and when you break down income inequality down to its foundation, it really is about what we as a city are doing to address the issue of
institutional racism in city government and in our civic life, and for the mayor he identified the opportunities that we as a city were creating for young people as really a focal point for how he wanted to address income inequality not just for today but for future generations. so our vision statement as part of this effort is simply that all seattle youth are achieving their full potential with the support of family in a united violence-free community. i'll just say a little bit about some of the values that drive this vision statement. since 2001 the city of seattle has instituted what was then an innovative race and social justice initiative that has now been modeled i think by a number
of other cities but basically with all of our city programs and services, we take a race and social justice lens to ensure that we are paying attention to not just how programs are implemented through the race and social justice lens but to evaluate whether or not we are achieving our intended outcomes with respect to equitable outcomes. we have a long history as a city of believing in community engagement and shared leadership and under mayor murray's leadership we have had some very very robust conversations about what does it mean and what does it take to take a multisector collaboration approach to the way that we do business. in his first year in office, the
mayor had a rather successful first year and exemplified by the passage of three distinct ballot measures. one of which is identified here. a $58 million, four-year start, a seed for universal pre-k in the city of seattle focused on high quality pre-k for 3 and 4-year-olds. our voters in our city passed that ballot initiative in a year where they also passed a transit levy measure as well as a measure that provided dedicated funding for our parks. so transit, pre-k, and parks, and underlying all of those three efforts again, mayor murray, the connecting thread that he also mch sizeemphasized with
all three ballot measures was the issue of equity. we have parts of our city where the per capita availability of green or open spaces to residents is disproportionately less compared to the city in general. again, with seattle, with all of our wonderful diversity, we are still struggling with issues of inequity when we get to even issues like park and open spaces, when we get to issues around transit, and so the efforts that the successful ballot measures last year really are helping to in a more wholistic way address the comprehensive needs of the community. the other effort, and i think part of the reason why the department of justice invited seattle to join in this incredible national effort is because since 2009 we have also
had the seattle youth violence prevention initiative in our city, and i'll say more a little bit about that later, but that effort has given us as a city a strong foundation from which to continue our work and take it to the next level. a couple of other items that i want to mention is the mayor's youth employment initiative, and i think other cities and other mayors have successfully implemented summer youth employment opportunities. when our mayor took office last summer, we had the year before offered 650 summer youth employment opportunities. last year mayor murray said we're going to take it up to 1,000, and this summer his goal is 2,000, and, again like other cities, we've had some strong partnership and leadership on the part of our business
community stepping up to participate in that effort. and finally another aspect of -- another example of the comprehensive approach we're taking in seattle is career bridge, which is an innovative re-entry program operated by our seattle chapter of the urban league. some of the goals for our youth violence prevention efforts focus on again, youth employment, community support and connectedness and a coordination of resources. and as i mentioned at the beginning, these goals are important to understand in the context of some of the challenges that we face as a city, especially as it relates to young men of color and young people of color. in seattle among 15 and
16-year-olds, they represent -- youth of color represent over 50% of 15 and 16-year-olds in our city. i think that is a national demographic trend that is reflected in the fact that 2015, if i'm not mistaken is the first year that there will be a minority/majority in all public schools in our nation. that's a watershed moment demographically for our country, and seattle is no different in those demographic trends. and yet what is alarming for us and what should be alarming for us is that despite those demographic trends layered on top of them are continuing and persistent rates of disproportionality when we look at education data, when we look at crime data, when we look at homelessness data. and so these are just a few bullets about the kind of data
that underlies our work. unemployment is three times higher for young people in general and they are -- young people are disproportionately affected when we come to statistics around violent crime. again, given the demographic trends that i just mentioned, over 50% of seattle's youth who are 15 and 16-year-olds are youth of color that means that all of these statistics when we talk about young people young people of color are disproportionately represented. seattle's rate of youth disconnection is at the national average of 14.7%, but for african-american youth, that disconnection is astonishingly high at more than 27 -- nearly 27%. among the other statistics that is incredibly alarming for our mayor is the fact that when we break down the poverty rate in the city of seattle by race our
overall population of poverty rate is 13% to 14% which is about the national average. when you break that down by race white children in seattle -- about 4% to 5% of white children in seattle are below the poverty rate. when we look at african-american children, the poverty rate goes up to 47%. that is a stark contrast and one that is not sustainable if we are to live up to our city's ideals of inclusion and equity. and so what does that mean for us as we enter this partnership this national forum work. well, it's a lot of work ahead of us. it's going to take a lot of resources, as other speakers before me have identified but there are also opportunities. so some of those opportunities are national in scope, in
addition to the national forum, the city of seattle has pledged to the my brother's keeper, president obama's initiative, as well as to the cities united initiative. with respect to our seattle youth violence prevention program, one of the things that we are actually conducting right now as we speak is a xre mens sif community assessment of that program as well as other programs related to this issue. so our seattle youth violence prevention program is funded at about -- i'm going to skip around some slides here, about $5 million a year, and those are city general fund dollars and we have benefited from some very important outcomes positive outcomes, from that initiative including the fact that since the baseline year of 2008, juvenile court referrals for
violent crimes in the neighborhoods served by syvpi have gone down by 49%. and yet the work remains to continue to build on this strong foundation foundation. so what are we doing moving forward? the comprehensive assessment that i mentioned will inventory our current city investments including taking stock of what we have strongly built up with our seattle youth violence prevention initiative but it will also i think more importantly for us identify the gaps in services and systems. so i feel like a little bit of a problem child up here because unlike the other good students the other cities represented that did their presentations, we have in the seattle of seattle
purposely taken a little bit of a pause before we developed our plan in order for this comprehensive assessment to be completed, and so we will get the results and recommendations this july. that will then inform our strategic comprehensive efforts moving forward. part of that assessment will be a very frank and candid reassessment of what outcomes we are using as well as the governance model to achieve accountability. when we have as a city invested city general fund dollars as we have through a generous levy that supports educational outcomes, our seattle families and education levy that has invested over $253 million to supplement the work of our seattle public schools over the last seven years, for instance. when we as a city have invested
$5 million per year into youth violence prevention work and we are still seeing the persistence of the disproportionality data that i just mentioned. we as a city and our mayor is committed to taking new steps, and not just outside the box steps, but taking a very candid look internally and externally. internally to say how could we do better to integrate our efforts? externally to say what are the partnerships that we need to strengthen in order to get to the unified outcomes that we all need to to start not just whittling away at the disproportionality data, those inequitying, but making bold strident ambitious, strides to make sure that we are eliminating those inequities.
and so part of the launch of this effort was a mayor's youth opportunity summit that mayor myrrher convened earlier this spring, really led in large part and organized by our director of the seattle youth violence prevention initiative. we had one of the most wonderful turnouts of young people. we had over 400 people show up for this youth opportunities summit at rainier beach high school, one of our high schools in our south end, a historically low income neighborhood in seattle, and i would say more than two-thirds of the attendees were young people and specifically young people of color. we have ongoing the city's commitment to our race and social justice initiative that will help inform again the outcomes and the methodology that we use in shaping our plan,
and we are also, as i mentioned before taking policy, proactive policy efforts. recently i think seattle a couple years ago was one of the first cities to ban the box, to make sure that we as a city are leading by example to remove barriers to re-entry literally banning the box in our employment forms that forced applicants to record or to identify whether or not they have been convicted of a felon, right? and in addition to the three ballot measures i mentioned last year, our mayor led the effort to pass what was then the first in the nation historic increase in our city minimum wage to $15. so sort of in conclusion i wanted to just leave you with at
cup -- a couple thoughts and a quote. the couple of thoughts are this that for each of the cities i think that are represented, we in the city of seattle are incredibly excited to learn from the efforts and the outcomes but also from the mistakes that other cities have and will go through. i think that's part of the excitement of being part of a national community because no one has got the answer right and so you know, some of the nuggets that i'm going to be taking home is -- i don't know where -- dignity data, right? love that phrase and love the concept that that is -- that that phrase is motivated by. and one of the hopefully value add or additive things that the city of seattle will contribute to this effort nationally is also the benefit of having a
bloomberg innovation team. last year the city of seattle was one of a handful of cities that was awarded a bloomberg innovation grant where we will literally have an innovation delivery team that will work as a consultant on this effort on the issue of vieolence prevention for young people in our city, and carlos back there is the director of our "i" team and the "i" team will work in consultancy with several of our departments and the mayor's office for six to nine months to help us deliver on again the promise and refined methodology for how we as a city can do better to address youth violence. so i will then leave you with a quote that our mayor shared at his state of the city address which is an excerpt from a poem
by maya angelou. history despite its wrenching pain cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage need not be lived again. lift up your eyes upon the day breaking for you. give birth again to the dream. thank you. [ applause ] >> good morning. >> good morning. >> my grandmother said please follow the three "b"s be brief be bright, be gone. that's difficult for me. thank you for having us and let me just say after four years of fighting to become a part of the forum, we have finally arrived.
cleveland. [ applause ] we will go to the slide. we come from a beautiful city which many of you may know a guy has returned plays a little basketball. he's come home, and like i want to say to all of you, coming home is a great thing. come home again. so if you ever get a chance visit cleveland. we want to be the safest city in america, and we want to join you and say this to you all. all our efforts together will make a difference for our communities and that's why we're so proud and so happy to join you, and in our project to be a part of this effort, cleveland is really trying to, and i say this, it goes back to the original concept of weed and seed. i'm the weed she's the seed, and you'll see all about that in a few moments. but what we are trying to do in cleveland really is take so many
singularly great programs and put them together. we're very fortunate and very lucky in our city that many of the federal initiatives that have wonderful program designs really have followed what they've been designed to in their silos and this gives you the greatest opportunity to link and integrate those. and in cleveland we want to take advantage of that for a population of young people who are coming into contact because of so many system failures. 15 to 25-year-olds in every city here are suffering from system failures. mental health, education public housing, parenting and racism and poverty and you know what? all of us are saying the same things. so i'm not going to sit here give you a lot of data just to get to the basics. our core principles in cleveland
is to make sure that we have a singular structure that's multidimensional, covers all the disciplines, and across all levels. that includes from birth to college or to vocation but to employment. it covers a responsibility that when we look at our city we need to build on evidence-based data-driven programs that work, and those that don't let's change them and get rid of them. and the third is that we cannot do this without the community. we cannot go in and make it better for someone else. we have to make it better for all of us together and those are the pieces of making decisions in our city. our project is very simple. it's to really look at partnerships, it's to look at training, it's looking at empowerment of the community and evaluating that, and we have a wonderful team. they didn't want to be announced. many of you announced the people
but would the cleveland table stand up and i will just name not them individually but it represents the u.s. attorney, universities public policy our school district, our county, and our youth leadership and they're all wonderful people and you will get to meet them hopefully. our goals are simple. we have two wonderful thorough initiatives. many of you know one, the defending child dci. we would like to combine that structure with something many of you may have heard years ago the comprehensive anti-gang initiative in 2006. we call it stance in cleveland because the community preferred a different name. please listen to your community when they really want you to rethink and reposition what we call things. it matters. it's so significantly important. we have a lot of different partners. one of the things i want to say as we talk about this this is something that cannot be done alone. we truly need to look at all of
the various components of our community to work together to make a difference. and so in our plan we're really going back to each of the workshops that's scheduled today, every one of them has a component that should be in everyone's plan at various levels. we have recognized finally and i'm going to say this is like 360 for me because i'm going to honor someone that's a family member today. i have a cousin who talked to me about, oh, ten years ago about youth violence. he was the surgeon general of the united states that did the first report on violence. name was dr. david sacher. that's my cousin. and what he said about that was that it was a public health issue then, it's a public issue now. so we're very fortunate that finally you all see the light. it's about public health.
and our goal really is to talk about something that is a current issue today, is that for some reason we believe that we need to separate law enforcement from community. it is not a separate thing. policing, law enforcement, the community are all in one. we have to recapture trust. retool or reskill our officers. engage our community in restoring what should be a relationship of knowing people on a first name basis. i think what we're going to try to do in cleveland is we're going to look at all of those things and start with something called police assisted referrals. i know seth is here from justice. we have our public housing and policing. to give you one example of how great this program works we've had a 50% reduction in calls for service and we've increased edd favorability and trust of police officers by over 90%. think about changing the needle in that area.
it's because the officers are able to refer within a 48-hour window the services that people need. we're so proud of that and we're going to continue to expand that as well. our fourth goal is really to look at the target population of 15 to 24-year-olds which is really a gap in service and brings all those programs together. there are a number of steps that are left for us to do. but because i recognize that we've been here through all the other cities we're going to go through and end it with this, and i'm going to introduce our health director, tony. [ applause ] >> i think it's still morning so good morning. i am the new director of public health for the city of cleveland. i would like to recognize at this time our honorable mayor frank g. jackson, who unfortunately could not be here today, because as many of you
are probably aware, he's work through our doj report as well as most recently our brillo case and we're waiting for that verdict. our community is right now preparing for that verdict. and really concerned about how the community is going to respond. which really brings me to the health focus, which begins with trust and knowing your community. as michael stated, we can go through and have very similar maps, as many of the other cities have prepared and presented today and i probably would only need to show one map. and one map that was actually designed in 1940 when the red lining and racism and segregation and discrimination was really deep rooted in our city, which means that certain areas within our communities were designed to fail. designed to fail. so when we speak of place matters by your zip code, it's
true. which means the population, the targeted population in which michael identified the ages of 15 to 25 are young men that are here today representing different cities. when they're supposed to start their lives, they have a sense of ending. they don't have tim mcgraw hope. they don't know where to begin. the resources, the support services the relationship between law enforcement, and the government isn't there. where do they begin? where do they go? so we talk about youth violence. we have to talk about community perceptions. our moral character. what are we building within the family fabric of what we're supposed to promote? i think those are some of the questions we need to leave here today, not only evidence-based practices, right? but a lot of people say what are
evidence-based practices? it can be as simple as evaluation metrics. simple as having a tracking mechanism. does it need to be something in-depth and complicated and i think we can make things a little bit too complicated. when if we can take the time to develop baby steps before we start running, we can be more productive and have true sustainability and systems change. because what we need is systems change. he started off with the weed and the seed. and we need to make sure we track what we're harvesting with that seed, because the time is now. the time is now and we're all here for a purpose. not to take this information and hoard information, which we talk beaut silos. it's hoarding of information. we're all hoarders of some sort. that's a public health issue.
i think it's a matter of sharing our information. how can we improve our information and have true impact, which brings me to this. it's imperative that as we align and create these alliances that we create task forces that are capable of mobilizing to the hot spots that we need to intervene, for true response we talk about our policemen who are responsible for enforcement in responding, and our first social responders, if you will. some of the public health recommendations that i've been sharing with michael and our cleveland team, if you will is there has to be equal accountability that is balanced. so what does that look like when we talk about that? well, we know that our police force is responsible for being the first responders in many cases, then we should have a requirement as part of their hiring process and/or annual
evaluations to conduct psychosocial assessments on them. we should have emotional intelligence assessments on our police responders. do they have the skill sets to manage what they're responsible to manage? or are they going to jump on the roof of a car, unload their guns, reload, and unload again? do they have the skill sets they need for the community that they're responsible for protecting and serving? those are the real indicators that need to be monitored and evaluated, and upon hire and upon evalwigss, you should have a professional development plan. in addition, a public health recommendation includes that our law enforcementuations, you should have a professional development plan. in addition, a public health recommendation includes that our law enforcement providers and public servants should be required to provide community services in which the communities they serve within.
so they need to work in our school systems. they need to be part of the health curriculum so they get to know my son and your daughter so by the time jamie and johnny and suzy and sally are in their teenage years, right the officer will know that's sally who he helped grow. before he decides to shoot sally or johnny he's going to know that individual because he was part of the growth process. so there's an equal investment in the people that we're here to serve and protect. so that's another recommendation. we have criteria for our students in third grade, fifth grade, and ninth grade where we have to assess their body mass index. i think we also should have some of these assessments to identify the trauma of our students that
we're trying to educate. so a requirement request, or part of the enrollment process for principalsing for those that are responsible for serving those students we have to see their mental health status. but where do you begin if you don't know what your baseline is? there should be a process, a system, an expectation of how we're addressing that with our students as they enter our school system. part of the responsibility of our school system is to have that folded into the process. the governmental responsibility is to obviously break down our silos. we need the federal government to assist us in creating sharing of information agreements, because we're all walking around very paranoid because we have these limitations and are we doing it right. and i think that if you assist us with that technicality if you will so that you eliminate our fear to better serve the public, as intergovernmental
agencies, we can be more effective and efficient with utilizing our resources and having true outcomes that are expected of us to achieve. as far as the community, it has to be led we have to build and grow our systems change based upon the community feedback, and we have to start with the youth. they have to be part of the process. right now, most of the youth that we're dealing with have adverse reaction to authority. if they're not the ones thinking of it, they don't want to hear it. they don't want to be told what to do. they're angry. they feel hopeless. they haven't been part of the solution and part of the voice so i encourage all of you to have your youth, such as the gentlemen who are here today from your different cities. to facilitate listening sessions at libraries and community rec centers. take that information and fold that into your systems fold
that into your plans for your community to improve. i'd like to end again with how i started. the time is now. can we all say that together? the time is now. thank you. i appreciate your time. [ applause ] a live picture from capitol hill this morning, as we're here for a house hearing on isis attacks on religious and ethnic minorities in iraq and syria. members are expected to explore the humanitarian and security needs and to hear from witnesses who have experienced the threat. conditioningman ed royce is the chair of the hearing and he chairs the house foreign affairs committee. should get under way in a few moments. live coverage here on c-span3.
this committee hearing will come to order. today, we focus on the minority communities, the many minority communities that are under brutal attack. some of them on the brink of extermination by isis. by isis principally in iraq and syria, but elsewhere as well. and we're joined by individuals who have personally faced this threat and are familiar with the extreme hardship with the grief that displaced minorities face in that troubled region. isis has unleashed a campaign of brutal violence, depraved violence, not only against shia muslims and fellow sunnis who do
not share their radical beliefs, but against vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities. and as ms. isaac put it simply in her prepared testimony we cherish ethnic and religious diversity. isis hates it. many americans may not realize that iraq and syria are home to dozens of ethnic and religious minorities with ancient cultures, with deep roots. these communities syrian and caldian christians, yazidis and others are under mortal threat in their ancestral homelands. and the mass execution of men, the enslavement of women and children, the destruction of religious sites is part of the isis effort to destroy these communities, to destroy all evidence of the preexistence of these communities.
in fact, isis maintains a special battalion, and they call it the demolition battalion. and that battalion is charged with going after art and going after artifacts, religious and historic sites that it considers heretical and its job is to simply destroy history. the situation for some of these groups was precarious even br isis. according to some estimates, more than half of the ethnic and religious minorities have fled the country over the last dozen years, but what they face today is ie nilelation by isis. and the influx of isis extremists has become a plague. uprooted two million souls, two million human beings.
members will recall last august to break the siege at mount sinjar, where thousands of yazidi refugee families have been trapped by isis. the physical security and welfare of displaced minorities is an immediate priority. options for u.s. assistance range from additional material support to friendly forces. all the way to creating safe zones, or no fly zones. and while it's important to weigh the cost of each option, we cannot lose sight of the fact that people are being kidnapped, people are being tortured, women are being raped, and children, and they're being killed every day. beyond that, we need to focus more on their psychological well-being. many of those people especially women and girls have been subjected to unspeakable
traumas. the young men are mostly just slaughtered. and as with any displaced population, as their vulnerability increases so does the threat of human trafficking. what can be done to better protect women and girls at risk of slavery? finally, what can and should be done to keep these evacuations from becoming permanent? it would be a tragedy if well intended resettlement fulfilled the goal of isis itself. in other words, to drive these believers out. are there ways to support the reconstruction of local institutions in civil society so that post-isis and there must be a post-isis these communities can return and thrive in their ancestral homelands. i'll now turn to the ranking
member, mr. eliot engel of new york, who has been a true leader on syria and on the humanitarian and human rights disaster in the region, for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and thank you, as always, for calling this important hearing. and let me also thank our witnesses for joining us today. we're very appreciative that you're here. this committee has taken a hard look at the brutal campaign isis is raging in iraq and syria. we've learned about the broader threat isis poses across the middle east and around the world. we know how dangerous this group is. we heard how many people have lost their homes and their livelihoods and their lives in the wake of this violence. and today, we will focus on the heartbreaking struggles of christians yazidis and muslims who defy the barbaric perversion of islam espoused by isis. we will hear about the dangers that these communities face every day, how isis has killed, raped, and enslaved those who
don't fall in line with their fanaticism. and i hope their stories will remind us and our partners and allies around the world that we must do everything possible to help these people. we will also hear about the attempt by isis to erase the history of these communities. we've all seen videos and reports of isis destroying ancient sites and historical artifacts in the territories they control. these are not random acts of vandalism. isis is deliberately targeting cultural property for two reasons. firstly, the to loot and steal cultural artifacts to fund their violent campaigns. and secondly, to destroy what is left in a calculated effort to eradicate minority cultures. this form of psychological warfare against yazidis christians, muslim minorities and anyone else that refuses to bow to their oppression from the tomb of jonah in mosul, to yazidi shrines in the sinjar
region, isis is trying to rewrite history. we have seen this tactic before. the buddhas destroyed by the taliban in afghanistan. the nazi destruction of jewish religious property during world war ii. we cannot allow another vicious group to reshape our record of the past. we need to cut off the profits isis gets from trafficking looted artifacts and to ramp up our efforts to save cultural property from destruction. a few weeks ago, this committee unanimously passed to protect and preserve into national property act, which i introduced with representative smith chairman reus, and representative keating. this would help save cultural property from isis's campaign and we need to get this bill to the president's desk. we also need to stay focused on bringing belief to those living under the yolk of isis. i hope our witnesses can shed some light on what religious minorities living under isis
control need the most. the administration's response to degrade and destroy isis is a good start. but it's a start. united states has worked to cut off financial support to isis, to stem the flow of foreign fighters, to deliver robust rue humanitarian assistance, to provide support to our partners including through air strikes and to push back against the violent ideology promoted by isis. but as we will hear today, people are still suffering in isis-held territory, and i hope today's testimony will underscore from my colleagues the need to pass a new authorization for the use of military force or aumf. i have said this before and i will say it again and again and again until congress acts on its responsibility and passes a new authorization. finally, i want to say that some of us are wearing red today. i'm wearing a red tie. my good friend is wearing a red blouse. and we're doing this because we want to focus on the girls who
have disappeared under boko haram. while boko haram is not isis, certainly affiliated. their tactics are just as brutal and its terrorism all around the world and we need to stand up in this congress and show that we will thwart it in any way possible. once again, i thank our witnesses and i look forward to hearing your testimony. and thank you, mr. chairman, for your leadership as always. >> thank you, mr. engel. our panel that we're joined by here today include sister diana momeka located in mosul iraq. sister diana one of many thousands forced from their homes by an isis offensive last year has been involved in providing assistance to other internally displaced iraqis currently residing in erbil and raising awareness of the plight of minorities displaced from
nineveh. ms. jacqueline isaac is the vice president of roads of success, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and minorities in the middle east. ms. isaac's work has included refugee to aid missions and helping victims in iraq, jordan, and egypt. ms. hind kabawat is the director of interfaith peace building at the center for world religions, diplomacy, and conflict resolution for george mason university. ms. kabawat has trained hundreds of syrians in multi-faith collaboration, civil society development, women's empowerment, and in negotiation skills throughout the middle east including in aleppo syria. dr. katherine hanson is a fellow at penn cultural heritage center for the university of pennsylvania museum specializing in the protection of cultural heritage.
specifically on the threats tos me -- she recently served as the program director for the archaeological site preservation program at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil. without objection the witnesses all prepared statements, will be made part of the record. members are going to have five calendar days to submit comments and questions on any material they might want to put into the record. with that, sister diana, please summarize your remarks. and sister diana she'll push that button, that red button there for you. >> thank you. thank you, chairman royce and distinguished members of the committee for inviting me today to share my views on ancient communities under attack. >> sister i'm going to suggest
you move the microphone right in front there. just project a little bit. thank you. >> okay. thank you. november 2009, a bomb was detonated at our convent in mosul. five sisters were in the building at the time and they were lucky to have escaped unharmed. our sister asked for protection from local civilization authorities, but the pleas went unanswered. as such, she had no choice but to move us. on june 10th, 2014, the so-called islamic state in iraq or syria, or isis invaded the nineveh plain. starting with the city of mosul isis overran one city and town after another, giving the christians of the region three choices, convert to islam, pay tribute to isis, leave their
cities, cities like mosul, with nothing more than the clothes on their back. as this horror suppressed through all of the nineveh plain, by all 6th 2014, nineveh was empty of christians and sadly for the first time since the seventh century a.d. no church bells rang for mass in the nineveh plain. from june 2014 forward more than 120,000 people found themselves displaced and homeless in the kurdistan region of iraq leaving behind their heritage and all they had worked for over the centuries. this uprooting of everything that christians owned, body and soul stripping away their humanity and dignity. to add insult to injury the initiative is that iraqi and kurdish governments were at best
modest and slow. apart from allowing christians to enter the region, the kurdish government did not offer any aid either financial or material. i understand the great strain that these events have placed on baghdad and erbil. however, it has been almost a year and christian iraqi citizens are still in dire need for help. many people spend days and weeks in the street before they found shelter in tents, schools and homes. thankfully the churches stepped forward and cared for displaced christians. doing her very best to handle this disaster. buildings were open to accommodate the people. food and non-food items were provided to meet the immediate needs of the people and medical health services were also provided. moreover, the church put out a call and many humanitarian organizations answered with aid for thousands of people in need.
presently, we are grateful for what has been done. with most people now sheltered in small containers or some homes, though better than living on the streets or abandoned buildings. these small units are few in number and are crowded with three families. each with multiple people often accommodated in one unit. this is of course, increasing tension and conflict even within the same family. there are many who say, why don't the christians just leave iraq and move to another country and be done with it? to this question, we would respond, why should we leave our country, what have we done? the christians of iraq are the first people of the land. you read about us in the old testament of the bible. christianity came to iraq from the very earliest days, through
the preaching of st. thomas and others of the apostles and church elders. while our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution they built a culture that has served humanity for ages. we as christians do not want or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours. but the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history. not only have we been robbed of our homes property and land but our heritage is being destroyed as well. isis has continued to demolish and bomb our churches, cultural artifacts and sacred places like a fourth century monastery in mosul.
uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that isis plans to evacuate the land of christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. this is human genocide. the only christians that remain in the nineveh plains are those who are held as hostages. to restore and build the christian community in iraq, the following needs our urgent. helping us return. coordinated efforts to rebuild what was destroyed through slaughter, and electrical supplies and buildings including our churches and monasteries. incouraging enterprises that contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious dialogue.encouraging enterprises that contribute to the building of iraq and interreligious
dialogue. this could be through school and academic projects. i am but one small person. a victim myself of isis, and all of its brutality. coming here has been difficult for me. as a religious sister, i'm not comfortable with the media and so much attention. but i am here, and i am here to ask you, to implore you for the sake of our common humanity, to help us, stand with us, as we, as christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. we want nothing more than to go back to our lives. we want nothing more than to go home. thank you and god bless you. >> thank you, sister. ms. isaac. >> honorable chairman royce, ranking member engel and
distinguished members of this committee, i'm honored to be here today. thank you so much for having a crucial hearing that really is a matter of life or death. i'm not talking to you as an attorney, i'm not talking as a politician. i'm talking about being a human being who's been on the front lines. i've been to sinjar mountain. i've met the girls that have been kidnapped and raped by isis. and i'm telling you that we need to give them seeds of hope. seeds of hope to know that they can live and thrive in their home. i'm here because i promised these people, my friends across the world that i would be their voices today. hear their narratives. i'm here today because of a woman i met. she was in mosul in home at night and out of nowhere, isis came in and said you have two choices. you either convert to islam, or you pay the gizziah.
she gave them the money and said give me one minute because my daughter is in the bathroom taking a shower i'm just going to get her out. they said, you don't have one second. they took a torch they lit the house, starting from the bathroom where she was taking a shower. she picked up her daughter rita, and she thought she could take her to the hospital. she had four-degree burns, but rita died in her arms. i'm here today because of joy. an 11-year-old paralyzed kid from the neck down. isis found him in sinjar town. they thought that he was useless to society, so they picked him up with 190 paralyzed and elderly people and they threw him in the border of syria. but in the midst of all this darkness, i see that there's
light. light can breakthrough the darkness, and we need to take our role as human beings, push them and help them to survive and thrive. let me tell you what happened to joy. the heroes of today the peshmerga army found him with the other 190 and they rescued them, and today they're living in safety and the peshmerga army, who's out there risking their lives, are doing this on a constant basis. they are constantly rescuing the innocents. one of those innocent girls that i met i don't want to disclose her name for privacy purposes. she's 15 years old. and in one night in sinjar town, isis came in and took her with a group of hundreds of girls into a broken down building. and isis came in and they
started to trade. trading her off. categorizing these girls as merchandise depending on whether they were beautiful in their eyes, how old they were whether they were virgins or not. literally treating them like merchandise. she was sent off and she was being raped on a constant basis, and she decided to make an escape. she believed that she'd rather die trying. she believed that somebody out there, another human being, would help her if she made an escape. and in one night, she broke out of a window and she started to make a run for it. my brave friend went hours hiking on the top of the sinjar mountain. but isis came back for her. and took her back. when she went to that house, they starved her they beat her, and again, she said, i'd rather
die trying. isis forgot to fix the window today broke. and she made a run for it. and this time she made it to the very top. and who was there to stand by her side? the peshmerga army. the kurdish regional government who have already rescued at least 480 girls and children. 30 of which are impregnated. many of those that have been impregnated by isis committed suicide. the others who received the counselling, who received that push of hope, that seed that each of us can provide, started to dream again. started to see a future. today, i ask for four things. i ask that we support the brave peshmerga army who's resisting terror at the front lines. they're not just fighting to
protect their land. they're not fighting to preserve the religious minorities alone. they're fighting for the entire world. second, i ask that we provide humanitarian assistance, more and more of it because today there's about two million refugees and idps living in the kurdistan regional government region and they need our support. they need psychological counselling to deal with the trauma. we're talking about a future generation here. let's help them good what they need. let's help the brave government that's on the front lines. the armies that are truly the boots on the ground. i ask that we recognize the amazing rescue efforts. and lastly, i ask of you to help their partners. country like egypt who's now taking hundreds of thousands of syrians in their and land. a country like egypt when the president heard that 21
christians were killed in libya acted immediately by deploying those air strikes. a country like jordan is taking in hundreds of thousands of idps and fighting on those front lines. let's support them because this is a matter of national security. it's not about them. it's about all of us together. i have a video, if we have a moment to show these girls they're going to share with us their stories. >> without objection. [ speaking foreign language ]
>> these girls were turned out by isis. [ speaking foreign language ] >> these girls have hope. they have hope that we're going to help them. let's all do it together. thank you. >> thank you jacqueline. ms. kabawat. >> thank you, chairman royce. ranking member engel. and other members of the committee. i am honored to be here today and speak to you about the status of religious minorities in syria. a subject very close to my heart. growing up as a christian in syria, i was surrounded by rich
multi-religious history. i have lived much of my life on a road so ancient, it was mentioned in the bible. today, it saddens me to see the christians in syria paying a very high price for this senseless war. they have been running from their villages and homes. they are displaced. their churches are being destroyed. a report by my colleague on the destroyed churches in syria including those destroyed by isis and by the regime. protecting christians is essential. but why i urge you to do whatever is possible to protect
minorities and christians from isis, i would like to remind you that isis is killing any and every muslim who oppose them. just as minorities and muslims are killed by assad regime. my friend jemilla, a very religious muslim was threatened by isis and escaped at night to turkey fearing death. some sunni tribes have suffered massive losses to isis. for example, isis forced more than 500 jews in one day last year. women and children live constant traumatizing fear of rape and recruitment by isis. as a christian, i cannot request safety for my christian community without worrying about
others. yes, we need to create safe havens for minorities and all groups threatened by isis. it's monumental and worthwhile task. and when selecting these areas your organization is essential. areas close to turkish and jordan borders are the best candidate because of the guarantee that those borders will remain secure. additionally, an important component of safe havens will be the proximity to protect zone. by first liberating all isis controlled cities in these zones. the secretary of the safe haven will be easier to maintain.urity of the safe haven will be easier to maintain. i have visited camps in turkey jordan, and idp camp inside
syria, and others. the women there want to go back home. they want to live without fear. as we discuss, religious minorities, i urge you also to consider the need of women who have been marginalized as well. they are the key to peace process, and the key to establishing community that provides support for one another across sectarian lines. empowering local councils to deliver social services is another essential component of establishing safe havens for all syrians. the base guarantee for the prosperities of minorities in the middle east is under a democracy that accords everyone
the same rights and privileges, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. the message to minorities in the middle east should be one inclusion. encouraging them to be part of the democratic process. which is the only long-term possibility to defeat extremism and dictatorship in our country. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. thank you. dr. hanson. >> chairman rice ranking member engel, and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss isis's destruction of minority religious and cultural sites. isis's campaign of targeted extermination includes the erasure of the outward manifestations of minority religious culture, which
threatens these communities' way of life. i study the subject as a fellow at the penn cultural heritage center of the university of pennsylvania museum. but, like others on this panel, i was in iraq in august 2014 when isis advanced toward the erbil plain. as a program director at the iraqi institute for the conservation of antiquities and heritage in erbil, i was leading a course for heritage professionals from throughout the country, men and women of every religion. this training was interrupted and we departed abruptly shortly after air strikes began. despite the setback the desire of iraqi heritage professionals to protect the religious and cultural sites of the country remain strong. based on my current research, experience in iraq and consultation with iraqi colleagues, i want to share some examples of isis's destruction. slide one please. in july 2014 in mosul iraq
isis destroyed the tomb of the prophet jono. analysis of satellite imagery by the american association for the advances of sciences geospaces technology project where i am a visiting scholar confirmed this destruction. slide two please. this analysis also showed that isis removed all evidence of the shrine by clearing rubble. in doing so isis erased the physical presence for the entire local religious community. slide three please. it is an archaeological site in syria with preserved architecture. it includes the world's best preserved ancient jewish synagogue and one of the earliest known christian house chapels. the chapel dates to about 235 a.d. and contains the oldest known depiction of jesus christ. slide four please.
the site has been extensively looted and is currently under isis control. the before-and-after image analyzed analysis completed by the geotech project, demonstrates this over 76% of the site's surface has now been lost. slide five please. two months ago, i traveled to the area adjacent to isis held areas. i met with the director of the antiquities department to identify religious and cultural sites at risk. this site may be one of the only surviving yazidi religious centers. slide six, please. isis has released two videos that include the defacement of an ancient sculpture. these are human headed winged gulls. in ancient times they represented the empire from the ninth to seventh century bc. today, they serve as important
symbols for syrian christians. isis's defacement is thus intended to terrorize the present day iraqi christian community while simultaneously destroying artifacts. in thinking about how we can address this destruction, i would like to offer three recommendations. first, we must prepare humanitarian assistance to religious and refugee communities as well as to displaced heritage professionals. in the near future, i will return to erbil, iraq, with colleagues from the university of pennsylvania museum and the smithsonian institution and there we will work with iraqi colleagues to determine unmet emergency needs. more programs like this are necessary, and the u.s. government should encourage new collaborations in the non-profit sector. second, this committee should inquire into efforts to protect religious and other cultural sites during military actions against isis. there is a report that should shed some light on these efforts
due in june 2015 thanks to a provision sponsored by mr. engel in the national defense authorization act. i recommend that this committee scrutinize the report carefully for evidence that steps are being taken to avoid accidental air strikes on religious and cultural sites, and that protection measures are incorporated into advisory roles and military training. finally, there is bipartisan legislation to protect and preserve international cultural property act introduced by mr. engel, mr. smith mr. royce, and mr. keating. its purpose is twofold. to bring together the agencies that have existing mandates to protect heritage, and to eliminate the financial incentive for entities such as isis to loot religious and cultural artifacts. i commend this community for its bipartisan leadership on this bill and i urge you to advocate for its final passage into law. i would like to thank the
chairman for convening this important hearing at a very critical juncture in the preservation of religious and cultural heritage. i am happy to answer any questions that you have. >> thank you dr. hanson. that legislation by the way, has been passed out of committee. it's on the floor. and we're going to move it shortly, and i would just make a couple of observations. one is that this isis phenomenon, another way it could have been handled was when isis originally was in raqqa as they were leaving raqqa. there were those of us on this committee, as well as some of our ambassadors overseas that suggested the overwhelming u.s. air power hit the isis forces in raqqa or hit the isis forces as they were leaving in their long caravan as they begin their attacks, town by town by town. and we did not act from the air
at that time. we allowed them to take some 14 major cities, culminating in taking mosul without the use of air power at the time, to stop them while they were in these long columns. subsequently, we began the process in this committee, bipartisan, to argue for arming the kurds. why? because the kurdish battalions were strung out a 600-mile front with isis. they were one effective force, not just fighting isis, but taking in behind their front lines christians, yazidis other minorities, and willing to put themselves at risk to go into territory isis-held in order to rescue yazidis and other minorities, and they were fighting with small arms fire against isis, which had become the best fighting terror group in the history of any terror organization because they took
the central bank at mosul and had at their disposal enormous wealth, and because they took weapons along the way. so our efforts here have gone on now i would say for nine months to try to get into the hands of the kurds the anti-tank missiles the artillery, the long-range mortars that they need on the battlefield. 30% of these kurdish battalions are females. there are women fighting on the front lines against isis and they are fighting without adequate equipment, and as you put it so well, they're fighting for civilization. not just their own. for other religious minorities and frankly, for a principle. and because of the pressure from iran pressure on baghdad you know, yes, you can support the shia militia but you can't give support to the kurds. for whatever reason, the weapons
dribble in, and this is wrong. this is immoral. the other point i would make, i just wanted to ask you some questions on the issue of the sale of female captives from religious minority groups to isis fighters. how extensively has isis been involved in what we here call sex trafficking, or slavery frankly, particularly the kidnapping and sale of women and girls from these overrun communities. has it been an outcome of lawlessness, or is it part of a more deliberate isis policy to destroy and to subjugate those who do not share their fanaticism? ms. isaac? >> looking at the isis
philosophy, they believe that the yazidi people in particular are not only to be tortured but they are to be destroyed in every single way possible. they want them off the face of this earth. and so it is a philosophy to destroy them and to torture them. with the girls particularly that i met, they in one night, because they felt safe in the beginning in sinjar town, and in one night, isis came and took all of these girls and they told them first, they gave them an option they said will you become a muslim? will you convert to islam? and many of them said no. and they told them you are going to be muslim regardless, because we are going to sleep with you, and the moment that we do that, once we rape you, you will be muslim. many of these girls who chose not to be still were raped and
came back believing that they were forced into this religion. this is barbaric. it is systematic. to date today it starts with the yazidis. tomorrow it's going to be not only the christians, but every woman that doesn't fit within their philosophy. we need to stop the menace that's going on there. we need to stop at its root. this is a nerve center. right now, all the crazies from all over the world are coming to this center point. to this nerve center. if we can cut the snake at its head, we can diffuse them. their sex trafficking is systematic and it will continue, and it can reach our families if we don't do something about it. thank you. >> let me also ask about psychological counselling. and i'd ask that of the panel.
what type of trauma resources are available right now for those who have escaped and what more is yeah i would say from my work on the ground we don't have that strong program to talk about trauma because i just experienced a case go four weeks ago, a woman who was released by isis with 20aa yadi women thrown in, this is a christian, you take it, we go to our yazidi family. she was in her 40s, brutally beaten raped constantly yet her psychological situation is destroy ed destroyed. she can't control herself anymore when she tells her story
how they tortured her in so many ways when one of the sisters who took her found her body with, you know with the burn of the smoke and all of that. so the woman now we put her in a safer place, yet trying to find a good psychological treatment for her yet it's not available where we live exactly. so we lack for that thing. so the social psychological programs, i think they are the most important thing to look to work on at this moment. >> thank you. my time's about to expire. i'll go to mr. engel. >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. hanson first after all, thank you for being here today. thank you for your work to help iraqi citizens save their religious history. as you know america has a long history of leading the world in
efforts to protect religious and cultural sites from destruction and you're carrying this legacy forward today. during time of crisis such as those in iraq and syria, first priority must always be in saving lives and i thank the other witness for emphasizing that as well. miss isaac about the women's aspect and our other witnesses about how this is affecting everybody. we're committed to the priority of save lives but we also must ensure that we stop isis from destroying the history of these groups. as we create safe hafrns tohaivens to protect religious minorities, how do we protect cultural sites safe as well? >> thank you. i think it's very important that we make sure we're supporting local actions local actors are able to protect sites much like with firemen, you provide the hose and the water.
i also think that in terms of safe havens for individuals, we can also think about that as safe havens within a country for portable objects and artifacts and safe locations where things can be moved. we have seen that successfully take place in mali for instance recently. >> thank you. miss kabawat let me ask you this question, according to state department testimony last summer, sum of isis' religious minority captives have been able to escape while their captors were distracted by coalition air strikes. to what extent have coalition air strikes affected religious minorities? >> when we talk about effect of the air strikes it affect both majority and minorities because
they did hit some civilian places why and i was in hiding one month before they started, and where i was was lots of civilians has been hit. the problem is that they need to have more homework. they should know where the civilian, so when we want to say targeting civilians minorities, we need to say targeting civilians and we cannot say only minority because it's sometimes hitting everybody. thank you. >> thank you. let me ask miss isaac and also sister isis is waging obviously a campaign of destruction against religious sites across the territory they control. we saw the slides and pictures. can you comment on the impact,
the destruction of religious sites on the people who share a religious connection to those sites? what do we lose when isis destroys these sites? start with sister and then miss isaac. >> what do we lose? i would say we lost everything, sir. we left -- we lost everything that today every christian that's living in the region of kurdistan we feel we don't have dignity anymore. when you lose your home, you lose everything you have. you lose your heritage, your culture, you become with no identity. and today that's how we see ourselves. and the most brutal thing to us when it was put on tv that two monasteries that were one of them bomb and one -- another one
destroyed, just was a sign for us and that's your history is gone. you are nothing anymore. that's how we see ourselves now. homeless. >> thank you. miss isaac? >> as an american of egyptian descend, i moved to egypt when i was 13 and i remember holding on to the heritage knowing there were ancient churches still there, even if we were the minority. i had a tie, i could identify with my ancient churches. today in iraq you have the center preserved for the yazidis, that is their mecca that is their rome. today they hold on to that and the peshmerga is working so hard, if that's gone the yazidi people will feel hopeless, they won't identify anymore with the
land they've remained in for many years. for religious minorities in this region our heritage is everything. it ties us that land. it keeps us there. we're not supposed to just be there to survive. we should be living there to thrive, we should be able to worship freely go to the heritage sites, bring our children and grand children and talk about that history. without those sites we've lost it all. thank you. >> thank you. let me again thank all four of you for wonderful testimony and wonderful courage. we really appreciate it. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. our chairman emeritus. >> thank you so much. today's hearing, as we know, focuses on a subject that all too often gets overlooked or ignored when discussing the crisis in the middle east and specifically the fight against isil. we have discussed this in our middle east and north africa
subcommittee on several occasions, long side chairman smith and his subcommittee and chris smith has been a tireless advocate for this issue. isil has issued warnings to christians in iraq that they can convert, pay taxes, or be killed. churches are being destroyed, religious artifact sites are being raided and many christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee. isil massacred 20 coptic christians in egypt and the list goes on and on. isil just doesn't target religious minorities, everyone who doesn't ascribe to its form of islam is a target. so that's why it's imperative that we not only defeat isil but find a way to defeat its radical ideology as well. it's also important to recognize that the persecution of religious minorities isn't just isolated to isil or to iraq or syria.
the u.s. commission on international religious freedom has repeatedly called upon the obama administration to designate countries like iraq syria, and egypt as countries of particular concern. that's a special classification. why? for their systemic ongoing and egregious abuses that the religious minorities face in those countries. many of us in this committee have decried the fact that the iranian regime's deplorable human rights record and persecution of religious minorities were not made a part of the nuclear negotiations from day one since the p5+1 efforts were announced. a nuclear deal will legitimize the iranian regime and only serve to make the atmosphere even worse for religious minorities in iran. iran's meddling in iraq, its support for shiite militias have played a significant role in the rice of isil'current
difficulties we face in the region and the fight against the terror group in iraq and syria. now we have seen the size of the religious minority communities decline dramatically in iraq and syria as a result of isil's onslaught. sister diana, i'll ask you. you felt the pain and the suffering of your own community and you've been witness to what isil has done to ancient religious communities of iraq. you have been displaced twice. can you describe for us the conditions in mosul where you were forced to flee to kurdistan? could you please also detail the conditions in kurdistan? lastly what more can we do to meet the needs of religious minority communities? where can we be most effective? >> thank you. i would answer your question in a story that touches my heart a lot and the heart of the people that we're working