A Wednesday night community forum in Muncie focused on racial relations with the police and the community after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota.
Local Pastor Andre Mitchell summed up the frustration from his perspective, asking those in different communities to be patient with one another.
“By the time most white people are outraged, most of us blacks are already exhausted. So in order to move forward, oftentimes you guys have to come to us and we have to share our stories. So, if you don’t see engagement, don’t think that we’re not involved. We’re just tired.”
The speeches from a majority-white speakers panel sounded similar to one another. Local officials say they are listening and that racism has no place in the city or county. Area police departments talked about training programs and structures to keep officers accountable.
A call for change came at the end of the night from WaTasha Barnes Griffin, CEO of YWCA and a Muncie schools board member. She says her community is tired of dialogue that doesn’t lead to real solutions.
“Y’all been tired for, what, a couple weeks, a couple months, listening to us? We’ve been tired and exhausted and waiting for real justice, and it’s long overdue…. Most of all, y’all really know about the famous cases [of black deaths at the hands of police] that hit the news, and even those happen back-to-back. But just imagine if you knew how those cases come up on the daily and nothing happens – how do you feel? Do the work. Have some uncomfortable conversations with yourselves, with your kids, with some black and brown people.”
One action step announced came from Muncie Community Schools. CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski says school resource officers and bus drivers will take a summer course that teaches de-escalation strategies to use for when students return to classrooms.
Local officials have committed to holding another forum where the city can hear from black leaders. No date and time have yet been announced.