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How Black medics created Freedom House and made EMS history

On the 3rd anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Into America explores community-led alternatives to policing and emergency services, beginning with Pittsburgh’s Freedom House.

About the episode:

In May 2020, the murder of George Floyd inspired people to take to the streets in America and overseas, calling for cop reform, the defunding of police, or saying police should be abolished altogether. And as racial injustices continued, communities took matters into their own hands. The Healing and Justice Center in Miami, FL rolled out Freedom House Mobile and Crisis Units as an alternative to people having to call police, particularly in mental health emergencies.

The group draws its name and inspiration from Freedom House in Pittsburgh, which in 1968, became the nation’s first paramedics. Prior to 1968, police would transport people to the hospital during medical emergencies; but in Black communities, the result was often a disaster. Freedom House was all Black, rooted in community, and able to save lives.

In a special two-part story, Into America explores Freedom House then and now; and how Black communities have always worked to keep themselves safe.

On part one of ‘Don’t Send the Police,’Trymaine Lee speaks with retired paramedic and health-care worker John Moon about how Freedom House began, and its lasting impact for generations to come.

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Find the transcript here.

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