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City Of Dallas Hosts Frank Discussion With Community Leaders About Race & Policing

Stacey Rasheed, 47, is a member of Friendship-West Baptist Church, and said she felt she had to show support after a "Blue Lives Matter" caravan took over her church's parking lot. "It's upsetting that we're still fighting the same fight," she said.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
Stacey Rasheed, 47, is a member of Friendship-West Baptist Church, and said she felt she had to show support after a "Blue Lives Matter" caravan took over her church's parking lot summer of 2020. "It's upsetting that we're still fighting the same fight," she said.

Tuesday evening, the City of Dallas and the Holocaust & Human Rights museum hosted a conversation about the city’s racist history and its tie to today’s public safety challenges.

For many community leaders in Dallas, the stark difference between how pro-Trump extremists were treated at the U.S. Capitol versus people protesting racism this summer, did not come as a shock. But was a bleak reality of racism that’s always existed in America.

“What is deadly about it right now is that it seems to have permission to parade itself in a way that is causing people to become embolden, people to become destructive,” said Bishop T.D. Jakes, with The Potter’s House Church.

Jakes was one of five panelists that participated in the event “Looking Back at 2020: Racism, Antisemitism and Public Safety Challenges in Dallas.” The panel was a gathering of Dallas faith-leaders, academics and social justice advocates who want the city to do better for all its residents, regardless of race.

Panelists:

  • Jesuorobo Enobakhare, Jr., Chair of Dallas’ Community Police Oversight Board
  • Eddie Garcia, Incoming Dallas Police Chief
  • Rev. Dr. Maria Dixon Hall, Chief Diversity Officer & Professor, Southern Methodist University
  • Bishop T.D. Jakes, The Potter’s House Church
  • Rabbi Andrew Paley, Senior Rabbi, Temple Shalom, & Chair, Faith Forward Dallas

Last year, the city saw a spike in homicide rates and faced criticism for its handling of Black Lives Matters protests over the summer.

Jordyn Young, 16, came out to the counter-rally supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. "I'm Black and a woman, and they're letting me know that they don't care about me," Young said.
Keren Carrión
A young Black girl holds a sign at a Black Lives Matter protest near Dallas Police Department headquarters August of 2020.

“Just look at the incident at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge,” said Jesuorobo Enobakhare. “Black Lives Matter protesters were met with an excessive amount of force. This unequal response is the reality that Black people live.”

Enobakhare made the point that it’s time for Americans to hold themselves accountable. He praised the small steps forward the City of Dallas has taken to be more transparent, like launching a police oversight board.

“If you look at immigration, healthcare, economics, education, civil rights, criminal justice, it’s all one battle...fighting for equality,” he said.

The panel talked about how the roots of violence stem from socioeconomics, mental health, lack of education and poverty. They reminisced on the tumultuous year 2020 was and blamed the time spent quarantining, lack of job and opportunities, high suicide rates as factors to the city’s high murder rate.

Soon-to-be Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said more police doesn’t mean a lower the murder rate for the city. He called it an oversimplification of the change that needs to happen. The key is education and data-based solutions.

“We are not going to arrest our way out of the problem,” Garcia said.

Garcia shared how five years ago he watched the movie “13th,” which explores the history of racial inequality in prisons and why they are disproportionately filled with Black people. This moment for him was a turning point.

“Officer badges didn’t always shine so bright,” he said.

He was shocked by what he learned and couldn’t believe he didn’t know much of this information even though he had been an officer for nearly 25 years.

“We need to educate our officers that learning Texas law is just as important as learning about the atrocities American law enforcements has done to our communities of color,” Garcia said.

He hopes that as new chief he can implement more educational programs and give residents of Dallas hope and opportunity.

In agreement was Dr. Maria Dixon Hall, Chief Diversity Officer and Professor, Southern Methodist University.

She turns to her students for hope. For her, truthful and honest conversations about racism start in the classroom.

“Too much of what I’ve seen in Dallas is what I call mission-based guilt. People want to treat people like a mission rather than a relationship. I will go down and I will feed you, I will come over and take a photo-opp with you, but heaven forbid I have to sit in the classroom with you,” Hall said.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

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