Rethink Neighborhood Watch and Public Safety After Trayvon

Every year, on the first Tuesday in August, more than 30 million people in the US take to the streets to share food and conversation with their neighbors as part of National Night Out, which is sponsored by the National Association of Neighborhood Watch.

We could not agree more with the idea of building friendship and connection in order to build safer communities.

Yet conversations at National Night Out often turn to the need for more police and a more active neighborhood watch.

The tragic death of Trayvon Martin calls this into question. Are we watching our neighbors or really seeing them? Does our community truly need more police? Are the value and sanctity of Black and Brown children's lives reflected in our neighborhoods, courtrooms, and schools? How do we ensure safety for all?

Together with our friends at Justice for Families, we’re inviting you to start a new conversation about public safety at this year’s National Night Out on August 6.  

Start a New Conversation about Safety on August 6

Too often, the vision of how neighbors can work together is limited. Community members are told, "you are the eyes and ears of the police."

This message doesn't acknowledge the various ways neighbors make communities safe, and encourages suspicion rather than compassion.

In the wake of Trayvon's death, it's clear we need neighborhoods where people see and value each other, rather than watch each other, as Zachary Norris, our incoming executive director, discussed with The Atlantic's Cities blog.

If you share that vision, we invite you to join us August 6 to reshape National Night Out as a Night Out for Safety, Democracy, and Human Rights:

  • Sign up so we can send you tips and updates.
  • Find -- or organize! -- your local block party (check your town or city’s website to start).
  • Go out on August 6 and talk to your neighbors about what safety means to you.
  • Let us know how it went on Facebook or Twitter (use #nightout4democracy).

If you've never been to National Night Out, this is the year to start -- your perspective on public safety is needed more than ever.

We’re putting together some tips and tools to support you in starting a different kind of public safety conversation, starting with this beautiful poster by Micah Bazant (pictured above), which you can download, print, and take to your local block party.

National Night Out Events in Oakland

The City of Oakland has said that this year every pre-registered National Night Out party will receive at least one visit from a team of city officials, police officers, or city employees. 

  • Melrose Branch, 4805 Foothill Blvd, 5:00 pm
  • 81st Avenue Branch, 1021 81st Ave, 6:00 pm
  • Elmhurst Branch, 1427 88th Ave, 6:00 pm
  • Lakeview Branch, 550 El Embarcadero, 6:00 pm
  • Dimond Branch, 3565 Fruitvale Ave, 7:00 pm
  • Piedmont Avenue Branch, (ice cream social) 80 Echo Ave, 7:00 pm
  • Feelmore510, 1703 Telegraph, 7:00 pm (also having a pillow fight with DJs!)
  • Peralta Hacienda Historical Park in Fruitvale will be hosting a National Night Out event from 6-8PM. They will have a FREE ice cream social, barbecue, and raffle where everyone gets a prize. The event will be international. They will honor Gwendolyn Jackson (she is a Board member for the Historical Park and one of the founders of Nicol Park). There will also be an opportunity to sign up for Guardian Angels Oakland. If you are interested in having a vendor booth at the event, please contact Beverly at the Peralta Hacienda.
  • The residents of Brookdale Street (which has had a number of violent incidents this year) are also holding a National Night Out event from around 6-8PM.

Don’t see your neighborhood here?  Check out the official link to register a National Night Out event in Oakland. You can also call (510) 238-3091 or contact Felicia Verdin, Community Programs Supervisor, at or (510) 238-3128. 

Share Your Local Events Here

We’re hearing from people nationwide who are interested in turning National Night Out into a time to rethink what really makes communities safer. 

If you are attending or organizing an event in your area and would like to connect with others interested in a new conversation about safety, please share the event details in the comments below!