Unity forum tonight

Published 3:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2016

Representatives from the Troy Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Office and Troy City Council will attend a community-wide forum tonight that is being held to promote civil engagement within the community.

Dana Wilson, founder of Humbled Hearts Inc., and Shabrell Reynolds, founder of Flowing Brook Inc., organized the public town hall in response to mounting racial tensions across the country.

“We don’t want to stand idly by when our law enforcement is one arrest away from being in a similar predicament,” said Wilson. “It’s not good when the community is afraid of law enforcement and vice versa. We wanted to create an opportunity for an intelligent discussion from all sides of the community.”

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The forum is taking place a week after an armed sniper shot and killed five Dallas police officers during a protest march and during a week that has seen increasing tensions between law enforcement personnel and protestors in places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas, Texas.

In the midst of such chaos, Reynolds said that she and Wilson are hoping to bring unity at the forum instead of division. “This is Christian-centered,” Reynolds said. “This is not a rally or a protest, and we’re not asking anyone to take a stand. In fact, we would prefer you not.” Reynolds added that the forum is not targeting a specific race, but that they wanted good representation from everyone.

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr said he is looking forward to the opportunity to talk with concerned citizens and answer any questions they might have about the Troy Police Department and its practices and policies.

“You don’t ever know what something is going to throw at you, but I hope it’s all positive,” he said. “I hope we can clean up any questions.”

Barr said he and other department leaders have worked to caution officers to be increasingly vigilant as they go about their shifts. And, while tensions haven’t escalated to levels seen in other communities, Barr said Troy Police have been the target of threats.

“We’re aware of some threatening remarks out there, some which seem specific,” he said.  “We always tell our officers not to get complacent.”

“We want to proactively discuss these current events,” said Wilson. “We need to be connected, not isolated. It’s better when people can come together and talk about social problems. When there’s no civic engagement, that community is dying. I don’t want to raise my son in a dying community.”

Sheriff Russell Thomas said that the Pike County Sheriff’s Office appreciates what Wilson and Reynolds are doing. “It’s good to have dialogue between law enforcement and the citizens of the community. We’ll be there to answer any questions that citizens have.”

During the public comment portion of the Troy City Council meeting, Mayor Jason Reeves talked about tonight’s forum and an upcoming interfaith service at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 19..

“We live in a fallen world, and these are tough times right now,” he said. “We have a couple of things in place for the community. Ministers from both black and white churches are coming together next Tuesday at 6 p.m. for a time of prayer and Mrs. Wilson’s group is going to have the event (tonight). These are important.”

Dejerilyn King Henderson, District 5 representative, also encouraged residents to take part in the forum and prayer time.

Henderson said she recently participated in a conference with the National League of Cities which introduced its latest initiative: REAL: Race, Equality And Leadership.

“Some people do not accept the fact that we have a race issue in America and here in Troy,” she said. “The best way to address it is to discuss it, not sweep it under a rug.”