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Inspiring Conversations with Justin Austin of The Peace Watchers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Austin.

Hi Justin, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY to parents from Barbados. My father joined the United States Marine Corps and that brought my parents and I to California. I grew up in a household with structure, discipline and respect so accepting responsibility was not a choice. I’m blessed that my parents were my role models. My dad is a retired Gunnery Sgt. and my mom was a Senior Nursing Supervisor. She recently retired from the highest-level civilian job at the Naval hospital in Oceanside. I am extremely proud of what my parents have done for myself and my younger brother. The idea for The Peace Watchers app evolved to harness the haunting energy following the murder of George Floyd. It disturbed my whole world and I wanted to do something about it. Within a few days of his death, I began talking with friends and family members about community safety. The Peace Watchers is a community safety app designed to assist people in need to get everyone home safe using the power of the cell phone as a preventative tool. It was created to provide a layer of protection and to reduce anxiety and fear associated with uncomfortable situations.

We encourage people of all genders, races and beliefs to use it. This is for everyone who may find themself in need of a person to peacefully keep watch. For example, I have a daughter who’s a senior in college right now. This app is for her and other students to be used to help create a safer campus environment as well.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When the first (web-based) version of The Peace Watchers app went live in September 2020, it was exciting and frightening. I had never been an entrepreneur so that was a steep learning curve I had to adapt to on the fly. I had previously spent 15 years working at Scripps Health as a respiratory care practitioner. I just dove in and started learning everything I could to make the vision for this app come to fruition. As I began educating myself on the technical and professional side of things, it presented a financial responsibility. This app is free to download but it’s not free to create. There are so many more things I want to add to the app to make it more efficient and effective. We continue to lean on the generous support of the community and generate partnerships to make progress with this app.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
The launch of our first app gave me confirmation that there was a need for something like this in many communities. From there, we decided to make it a phone app. I enrolled myself in a few business classes to educate myself and created an LLC. As its following started growing, I continued to involve myself in the Social Justice movement by attending rallies and other events. People’s stories began to emerge and so many were related to anxiety and fear. The Peace Watchers movement is based on the compassion of people who demand justice and peace. Beyond the app itself, The Peace Watchers is a community where we can discuss, share and support one another around the experience of our community’s relationship with law enforcement and safety. After downloading The Peace Watchers app, you must create a profile so the people responding know who they’re looking for. After opening the app, the home page is the request page. There are two options to choose from: “I don’t feel safe” or “Police stop.” You select one, then press “request help.” You can add more details as well. A person should put the request in when it becomes necessary and the app will drop their location pin. Then, those located within a 5 to 10-mile radius are notified and can respond, keeping a safe distance and peaceful watch. Our next upgrade to the app is a Safety Tree-a place where each user adds a list of people that can be notified whether or not they’re within the five or 10-mile radius. That keeps everyone informed and accountable.

What does success mean to you?
During the various rallies and gatherings, I saw a staggering amount of compassion with complete strangers caring for one another. I saw every race, color, creed and gender connecting with each other. The uprising following the murder of George Floyd created an undeniable energy and rebirth of the community to stand up for what’s right and for each other. People left their homes in the middle of a pandemic to show love for a man they would never know. That was the response that empowered me to do something. The community was successful in coming together in support of Justice. The more people that have access to The Peace Watcher’s app the safer we can be as a community. It’s powered by the love and response of people and creates an opportunity for strangers to step outside of their comfort zone to care for each other. It also establishes credibility in the community that someone else is willing to show up for you.

Success is the safety and happiness of our loved ones. It’s holding firm through the dark times and surviving until the sun shines again. Success is not giving up on yourself when you truly want to. Success is reaching a goal for yourself that only you knew about. It’s finding good love and moving on from bad love. Success is hidden in small gems and larger than life. For The Peace Watchers, saving one life or preventing one assault or harassment would be a success. Let’s all show love, give respect and change the world!

Pricing:

  • FREE

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Image Credits:

Donna Coleman Photography

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