By Dustin Slaughter and Kenneth Lipp
What happens when leaders from Philadelphia’s law enforcement, activist, and media communities hold a town hall to discuss “policing, politics, and perceptions”?
Find out on Wednesday, February 11th, when figures including Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III, Police Advisory Commission head Kelvyn Anderson, and Daily News editor Michael Days gather at Catalyst for Change Church for a public roundtable discussion and Q&A.
The event is co-organized by journalist and media entrepreneur Christopher Norris, founder of Techbook Online, and members of Unity in the Community Philadelphia. It will be the first forum of its kind in Philadelphia since the events in Ferguson set off local protests and a new political movement.
“Catalyst for Change Church continues the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through activism, social justice, and reconciliation. It’s our pleasure to host such a conversation and anticipate healthy exchange,” Catalyst founder and Senior Pastor Keon A. Gerow tells Norris.
SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III, in a statement to Techbook Online, says of the event:
“The police are responsible for protecting society. The legitimacy of policing hinges on public trust and faith in the ability to provide an honest, respectful and effective product. Recent events around the country have negatively affected the legitimacy of the police in our communities. Protests have been an expression of frustration and anger. This is the time and opportunity for the police and the community to forge constructive and realistic change which will strengthen and improve upon the role of the police in society.”
According to a joint press release, the event will also feature remarks from incumbent City Commissioner Stephanie Singer as well as Tanya Brown-Dickerson, mother of the late Brandon Tate-Brown, a 26 year-old man gunned down by Philadelphia police on December 15th. Brown-Dickerson demands authorities release camera footage from a Mayfair gun shop that reportedly captures her son’s final moments during the fatal early morning traffic stop.
The officer-involved shooting of Brown has become a focal point for local police accountability organizers. Approximately 50 demonstrators marched in the Great Northeast on Saturday; another protest is scheduled for next Saturday.
Prior to the start of the event, Black Youth Vote will hold a voter registration drive.