Acts of violence between police and citizens across our nation over the last year have sparked important discussions in our communities about race and fair policing. The NWI Coalition for Civil Discourse will convene a town hall forum in Michigan City to bring together citizens, law enforcement, government officials and representatives from community groups to discuss these issues that have become topics of major concern for Northwest Indiana residents.
A Town Hall Forum on Race, Justice, Community and Policing will be held on Tuesday, April 11 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Michigan City High School Auditorium. The meeting will be a public dialogue among Northwest Indiana communities aimed at identifying innovative solutions to critical concerns in the face of current racial polarization.
The meeting will be moderated by Dr. Garrard McClendon, a region native and host of the Lakeshore PBS public affairs show, CounterPoint with Garrard McClendon. A portion of the forum will be recorded and will be aired the following night on Wednesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. on Lakeshore PBS.
McClendon hopes that these public forums will improve communication and relationships among citizens and law enforcement. “This is a community conversation to start the process of clearly identifying the challenges we face. We need to explore the perceptions that people have on all sides of the topic which is instrumental to leading us to a better understanding.”
The panelists scheduled to appear include Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer, LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney John Espar, Assistant Police Chief Julie Smith of the LaPorte Police Department, IUN Sociology Professor and ACLU Indiana Board Member Kevin McElmurry, Wesley Scully of the LaPorte County NAACP and Erika Stallworth, Executive Director LaPorte County Juvenile Services Center.
James A. Muhammad, President and CEO of Lakeshore Public Media, welcomes the opportunity to convene this community conversation. “Our goal is to have 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 NWI Coalition for Civil Discourse is comprised of partners from the government, non-profit, education, media, criminal justice, and corporate sectors committed to furthering dialogue across differences for the public good. The NWI Coalition for Civil Discourse includes the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, Valparaiso University, Lakeshore Public Media, the City of Valparaiso, and the City of Gary, with support from NIPSCO and other community organizations.
The mission of the Coalition aims to foster constructive conversations about difficult issues that challenge residents collectively, and cultivate solutions that promote tolerance, honor diverse perspectives, and improve the quality of life throughout the Northwest Indiana Region. The Coalition held two previous town hall forums which attracted nearly 500 residents. The first event in the series was held on Aug. 30, 2016 at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary and the second event was held on Nov. 28, 2016 and hosted by Valparaiso University.
McClendon hopes that people from all across Northwest Indiana will attend. “We are looking for a civil discussion in which we need to hear multiple points of view, so we want to hear questions from people that represent our diverse communities,” McClendon said.
How to Attend the Town Hall Meeting
The event will take place in the Michigan City High School Auditorium, located at 8466 W Pahs Road in Michigan City. Admission is free. The Coalition asks the community to preregister for this event at https://laportecountytownhall.eventbrite.com/. All are urged to attend this important public forum.