NASHVILLE, TN — Rev. Howard Jones, senior pastor of Fairfield M.B. Church, spearheaded a Town Hall Forum on Sunday, July 10, in response to the recent rash of killings: Baton Rogue, Louisiana, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas and more killings in Baton Rogue. Two Black men were killed by police in Baton Rogue and Minneapolis, respectively and five white police officers were killed in Dallas and now police in Baton Rogue, in what is considered a retaliation effort.
“We must focus on families and respect for each other,” said Pastor Jones. We have got to be proactive in our activities and focus on respecting each other,” he added. The gathering was held at the Kingdom Cafe & Grill, an outreach ministry of Fairfield Church. There was a standing-room-only crowd of approximately 200 people in the Grill side of the restaurant. Everyone had a concern and a hope to make life better. The scheduled one hour event, began at 5 p.m. and ended at 7:05. “People want to be heard and are seeking solutions to the problems in our society today,” added Jones.
North Precinct Commander Terrance Graves was in attendance and supported the activity to encourage good relations between the police and the community. Another officer, Keiara Ward relatively new to the force said, “ I grew up in North Nashville and I want it to be a safe place.” Many attendees in the audience had various concerns, complaints and solutions for a better way of life, ranging from identifying more individuals of color to apply to become police officers to police continually stopping an 82 year old woman while driving.
Though Nashville has not experienced the kinds of police killings as some other cities, Pastor Jones said, “We want to be proactive and to design ways to build trusting and respectful relationships with all members of the community.”
Many attendees at the meeting would like for the discussions to continue. As a concerned citizen, Pastor Jones added, “We will be pleased for the restaurant to be utilized for these discussions. We believe this is sacred ground, where decisions can be made and strategies for a better way of life can be implemented.“
There will be follow-up forums focusing on boys and men. Reports reveal that 123 Black men have been killed this year, senseless murders. Solutions are being addressed to prevent and stop these senseless killings. Mayor Megan Barry has spoken about these heart wrenching tragedies and praised Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson and the Police department for the commendable work they do on a daily basis to keep us safe and bring our community together. She announced some special meetings about race and social issues that are uncomfortable conversations to bring to the forefront of our national conversation. “It is a conversation that needs to continue,” she stated.
The first session will be Saturday, July 23 and a public conversation on race, equity and leadership on Saturday, Sept. 10. “Business Leaders must reach out to work with the full community in providing meaningful jobs for members of our community.” We want to include all sectors of the community to participate in these Town Hall meetings because it will take all of us to keep our community safe,” said Rev. Jones. In summing up the session, Reverend Jones said, “It’s time to stand together and stand strong.”