I was pleased to participate in an all-day summit on community policing after Ferguson, January 15 in Arlington. As the Dallas Morning News article below suggests, this event brought together all four of the African American congressional delegation from Texas. Some of my remarks are summarized in Sarah Mervosh’s article.
It’s not every day — or even every year — that Texas’ black U.S. representatives get together outside of Washington.
But they made a point to do so Thursday, united by an issue deeply relevant to them and their constituents: relations between police and communities of color in the wake of the controversial officer-involved shootings in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
“It was important for all of us to do this,” said Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who noted that they typically meet in their home state only every other year for the Democratic State Convention. “It shows just how important this issue is.”
Veasey and his North Texas counterpart, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, co-hosted panel discussions about Dallas-Fort Worth’s own race-relations problems and what can be done to prevent a similar tragedy from happening here. Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee, both Democrats from Houston, came to town for the event.
Speaking to several dozen people at the University of Texas at Arlington, the panelists — mixed in race and life experiences — illustrated the way trust in police splits down the color line.
Friends of Justice executive director Alan Bean, who is white, recalled a time when he was driving on a low-traffic road with a friend, who was a minority. The friend asked him to slow down, asking how many times Bean had been pulled over. Five times in his life, Bean said, all for speeding.
Bean turned the question back on his friend: “How many times have you been pulled over?” The friend replied: “I stopped counting at 30.”
“We just don’t come to these situations with the same perspective lens,” Bean said Thursday, encouraging more conversations between minorities and law enforcement officers to facilitate understanding.