Paris Texas meeting with Department of Justice a good first step
As, I mentioned a few posts ago, the Diversity Task Force and Paris NAACP hosted a City-Wide Dialogue on race last Thursday night. The meeting was lead by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service Office.
Carmelita Pope Freeman, Southwest Regional Director, brought her 43 years of government service to Paris to help deal with some of the tensions in Paris since the death of Brandon McClelland. Two men are being held in Lamar County in connection with his death.
Freeman’s office, located in Dallas, consists of three people. They spent 13-months leading New Orleans through a similar process after Hurricane Katrina.
Though many folks came out to Calvary United Methodist Church expecting to get into some of the issues that were on their mind, this wasn’t the night for that. The Community Relations folks plan to give everyone a chance to have their say, but that will come at a later date.
When that town hall forum does take place -hopefully sometime next month- their will be two important rules: each speaker gets a three minute time limit, and speakers will be respected as the folks in the meeting avoid interruptions.
Anyone can get up at a meeting and shout for three minutes, but what Freeman and Conciliation Specialist David Penland (also in attendance) are trying to put in place is a plan. A plan that will lead citizens of Paris to sit down at the table and craft lasting solutions that will eventually be presented to the U.S. Congress. If all goes as planned, Congress will then allocate funds to help solve some of the problems that were identified.
As an aside, I also had the chance to meet Ms. Creola Cotton, mother of ShaQuanda Cotton. Ms. Cotton told me that ShaQuanda is doing fine, and hopes to have the opportunity to make it into college real soon.
As more things hit me about the meeting and the situation I’ll post my thoughts. But below are some of the images I captured last Thursday.