Gary will join the national debate on policing and race when it hosts a community town hall meeting on Tuesday, August 30 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Center Plaza. The meeting will be a public dialogue among Northwest Indiana communities directed at formulating innovative solutions to critical concerns in the face of racial polarization. Organizers say local communities must be vigilant in efforts to identify factors that can improve the quality of life in Northwest Indiana.
The announcement comes as police shootings stir racial tensions and rock cities across the country, especially in Chicago, where the killing of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal has sparked protests in the city’s Black community. In a press release, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said President Barack Obama urged Gary, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana and Lakeshore Public Media to “answer the call to come together to address these major issues that have become topics of concern for everyone.”
The three entities have partnered to host a Northwest Indiana Region discussion about the issues that continue to create divide and discordant views about race and diversity in many of America’s cities.
“The meeting will be the first of many public conversations aimed at improving communication and relationships among citizens and law enforcement,” said Freeman-Wilson. “It is imperative that we make deliberate plans that will address race, justice and policing productively.”
The meeting will be moderated by Lakeshore’s Dr. Garrard McClendon, a region native and host of the public affairs show, CounterPoint with Garrard McClendon. The forum will be recorded and will be aired the following night on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. on Lakeshore Public Television.
While the panelists have not been finalized, the group hopes to include multiple representatives from law enforcement and government officials, as well as representatives from community groups and faith-based organizations.
James A. Muhammad, President and CEO of Lakeshore Public Media, welcomes the opportunity to convene this community conversation. “Our goal is to convene a true dialogue with the community and with government officials and law enforcement,” Muhammad stated. “It is an opportunity to engage in conversations that challenge assumptions and improve understanding across the board in order to move Northwest Indiana forward collectively.”
The Mayor also stated other national entities; the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Urban League have also expressed a need to build trust between law enforcement and citizens in our nation. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released a report naming over 150 cities hosting community conversations on the topics of race and police. In addition, the City of Gary has been participating in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust & Justice for the past two years. The initiative is designed to “improve relationships and increase trust between communities and the criminal justice system.”
Dr. Vanessa Allen, President and CEO of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana says, “The Urban League of Northwest Indiana is the lead agency that provides diversity and inclusion strategies via training/- workshops, and provides a platform that awards organizations on their proactive diversity and inclusion methods during an annual luncheon.” Dr. Allen believes the Town Hall Community Forum will promote authentic conversations that will ultimately strengthen relationships among all stakeholders.
Reservations are being accepted via Eventbrite at www.eventbrite.com. All are requested to register to receive a ticket. Admission is free. The event title is Town Hall Meeting on Race, Justice, Community and Policing.