Even though the protests have continued in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of an unarmed African-American teen, the story has sparked debate in Warner Robins-- a city which is thirty miles south of Macon. Both Ferguson and Warner Robins have some similarities in which people can relate in regard to not being represented.
On Tuesday, August 19, Pastor Troy Wynn of Uniting God's Kingdom Family Life Church in Warner Robins moderated a discussion about what lessons should be taken from Ferguson with other local clergy and members of the community.
The discussion is scheduled to continue throughout the week at the United God's Kingdom Family Church in Warner Robins in an effort to talk to young people and congregations will unite at Warner Robins City Hall.
Warner Robins has approximately 72,000 people. According to the Census, Warner Robins has a 50 percent non-white population --37 percent African-American and seven percent Hispanic. In Ferguson, the overall population is approximately 22,000 and two-thirds or 67 percent is African-American.
It is well documented that Ferguson city government is exclusively white despite the town being two-thirds black. On a side note, there are only four black officers on Ferguson's fifty-eight (58) member police force.
Due to at-large districts, there are no African-Americans represented on the Houston County Commission and out of six council seats in Houston's largest city --Warner Robins--there is is only one African-American.
WGXA-TV reported the following:
Several say race has got to be extracted from the equation and there needs to be more focus on the main problem.
"The focus has been shifted from Michael Brown to the race, the rioting, the looting, the fighting and we got to get back to the issue and I think that's us coming together," said Pastor Troy Wynn.
The pastors suggest working with government officials and their police departments as a joint effort for communication and looking beyond racial lines.
"All police are not bad, all black men are not bad but we have these images that are incarcerating us," said Wynn.
The top priority is educating youth on how to deal and approach situations with law enforcement.
Warner Robins' Chief Brett Evans was asked by WMAZ-TV about the number of African-Americans on the police force, but declined about the diversity numbers.
From the Warner Robins Police Department website, Chief Evans provides a message to the community: “The Warner Robins Police Department is committed to fairness, compassion and excellence; providing police services in accordance with the law, while being sensitive to the needs of the public we serve. We are truly committed to community partnerships through which we can address crime and public safety concerns."
In April 2010, Houston County’s NAACP President Larry Holmes addressed the lack of diversity inside the Warner Robins Police Department at a City Council meeting.
Holmes used statistical data to make his case to the Warner Robins City Council that something needs to be done to address the lack of diversity within the Warner Robins Police Department and among the different departments throughout the city and county.
The Houston NAACP leader revealed in April 2010 that African-Americans only make up approximately five percent of the Warner Robins police force. However, African-Americans make up close to one-third of Warner Robins population.
Very bluntly, Mr. Holmes said, "I see a problem with that and something needs to be done about it."
It is 2014 and it is a fair queston. Is diversity a priority of the Warner Robins Police Department? Houston County is one of the fastest growing counties in Georgia and is home to Robins Air Force Base.