Pelham city-wide forum to address conflict between minority individuals and law enforcement

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

PELHAM – A peaceful city-wide forum called “Standing United for Progress” is set to take place on Sunday, June 28, at Pelham Civic Complex to address solutions to alleviate deadly encounters between minority individuals and law enforcement.

Organizers have created a survey called “Be The Change Survey” which will allow residents to make their voices heard on how they perceive what is going on and what solutions they would like to see happen. It will be used to gather data from residents to be presented at the forum.

Kenneth Paschal, who organized the event with cooperation from city officials, law enforcement and community members explained that the purpose of the forum was to address the conflict between law enforcement and minority communities that is taking place nationally on a more local level.

“I see this outrage and all the protests. But I’m not really hearing a lot of local conversations about what people can do locally to make a change. A lot of people don’t know that real meaningful change starts on the local level,” Paschal explained. “I’ve met with city leaders, the mayor and police officials and shared that I was going to create this conversation about what we can do in Pelham.”

The event will open with a prayer led by Pastor Daven Watkins of First Baptist Church Pelham and conclude with closing prayer by Pastor Jerry McClain, Kingdom Christian Center.

The event will feature a panel called “Walk in Our Shoes,” which will feature male and female members of the African American, Caucasian, Hispanic and Latino communities as well as law enforcement officials. The panelists will discuss their experiences and observations of how they are treated based on their racial and gender identities.

Paschal stressed the importance of the “Be The Change Survey” for the forum. The survey asks what can be done within the community, within law enforcement and with state and local elected officials.

“We will roll out the results of the survey which will be used to create a common ground focus for the city,” he said. “We will know exactly what our community will want to do to be a part of the solution. Their responses will say this is what we want to do in our city to limit deadly encounters.”

Paschal also shared that Mayor Gary Waters will make a proclamation during the forum.

The event will last from 5-6 p.m. and seating will be limited, so those who want to attend should RSVP. For those who can not attend the forum will be broadcasted via Zoom. To RSVP, take the Be The Change Survey, or get information about the forum you can visit Standingunitedforprogress.eventbrite.com.