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Emotions high at National Town Hall Meeting on police shootings

As a male mourner wears a creative tie honoring the slain Michael Brown, the black community must find creative ways to stop the killings by police and against their own.
As a male mourner wears a creative tie honoring the slain Michael Brown, the black community must find creative ways to stop the killings by police and against their own.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

At what point are we (African Americans) going to take control of our community?

Why don’t they get upset when their kids are killing kids?

Why is this kid getting this much attention for robbing a store and getting shot?

The above tweet comments were from the National Town Hall Meeting on Aug. 26 in Baltimore, Md. on the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, MO. The meeting continued to raise a lot of questions about race relations, police shootings and treatment of citizens – especially black citizens. A distinguished panel of four experts gave their take on these issues.

Roland Martin, author/journalist and weekday host of TV1’s “News One Now,” did not hold back his tongue on why there is conflict in the black community and the police. “It’s a matter of trust,” Martin said. He gave a laundry list of black people’s names; particularly men, who were harassed and killed by the police. Martin broke down what actually happened at the Ferguson police department pertaining to Brown’s death and gave accolades to Attorney General Eric Holder for bringing in special agents and requesting a second autopsy on Brown’s body. He also talked about racial profiling when he added, “Attorney General Holder has been stopped (along with other middle class blacks) for driving nice cars. People have to go from a moment to a movement.”

Tessa Hill-Aston, President of the Baltimore NAACP, emphasized the importance of police to get to know their communities and for citizens to get in touch with their elected officials. “We need to go to our officials, go in groups, and demand training for the police.”

Gary McLhinney, former Maryland Transportation Authority Police Chief, advised to have more crowd control training. “I only had one hour of this training in the Baltimore Police Department in 23 years” McLhinney said. He stated many policemen have a “perception problem” and citizens have become an industry in meeting police quotas. “There’s a lot of disparity, you have to hire the best, police need the support when they are right and need to be held accountable when they are wrong.”

Armstrong Williams did not believe race is the major factor in these negative situations. “Young people should not have an attitude when encountered by police,” he stated. However he also remarked, “Police are supposed to protect and serve, (now) it’s to ticket and profit, (we are) scammed, taken advantage of.” Williams also thought the Brown funeral should not have been televised and the family should have had more privacy. Regarding the media, “They go to the funerals, but they’re more interested in ratings, the parents have been taken advantage of…it’s an example of being exploited.” Martin disagreed, explaining the Brown family would have requested the media not to cover the funeral if they wanted to.

Other topics of discussion were community policing, the importance of voting and going to jury duty, how many media reports get it wrong, that not all cops are bad, and the process of what takes place after a murder is committed. Former Prince Georges County State Attorney Glenn F. Ivey spoke about the breakdown process due to Hyman’s request. It was also noted only 12% of blacks in Ferguson vote.

A full house appeared at the town meeting which was televised by FOX 45 News in Baltimore and seen on Washington, D.C. station Newschannel 8 for one hour at 7. The 90-minute program “Your Voice Your Future, Ferguson: America Reacts” continued online. A snippet of the video can be seen at http://foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/fox45-holds-to....