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Forum with local leaders calls for change in relations between police, community

Posted at 4:27 AM, Jun 24, 2020

PHOENIX — Local leaders and community members came together on Tuesday to discuss community policing and what it's like to be Black in America.

The Bridge Forum was put on by the HeroZona Foundation. The event, labeled "Time for Change," was live-streamed on the organization's Facebook page.

The forum was moderated by Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Dr. Chavis was an assistant to Martin Luther King Jr. and leader of the Wilmington 10, one of 10 civil rights activists who were wrongfully convicted of arson in the 1970s. He spent 10 years in prison before his conviction was overturned.

As protests continue in Phoenix and across the country, Dr. Chavis says the purpose of the event was to bring major stakeholders together to look for solutions moving forward.

"The forum is to say that we can’t afford to have one or two bad officers that will ruin the reputation of all the other good officers, so I do think (we need) police training, police accountability, community accountability also because accountability’s a two-way street," Dr. Chavis said. "This is not a juxtaposition of community versus police or police versus community."

Founding Chairman of the HeroZona Foundation Alan Powell said he hopes people will walk away from the conversation knowing there is hope.

"We want to figure out what those best practices are," he said. "How we can sit down and do some problem solving, because nothing's going to be solved overnight but we got to pick one or two things collectively within the community and law enforcement so we can move our communities in the right direction."