HomePine Bluff newsPine Bluff hosts a conversation between law enforcement and the community

Pine Bluff hosts a conversation between law enforcement and the community

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – In an effort to strengthen the bond between law enforcement and people of color, the 400 Years of African American History Federal Commission (400 YAAHC) arrived in Pine Bluff this week. The initiative, titled the “I Fear for My Life Campaign,” is a nationwide push aimed at creating a safer environment for all community members.

Also check: Arkansas Humanities Council announces opening of traveling exhibit “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” in Pine Bluff

At the heart of this movement, the 400 YAAHC facilitated a crucial dialogue between police officers and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) scholars. This focus group was a step towards mutual understanding, as described by Dr. Kideste Yusef, the National Project Coordinator. “It was about humanizing both sides,” Yusef said. Students shared their feelings and experiences during police stops, especially when these encounters were less than positive. Conversely, officers conveyed their fears and challenges inherent to law enforcement. This exchange, according to Yusef, led to a greater understanding between the two groups.

The campaign also reached younger minds, with Pine Bluff 9th Grade Academy and Watson Chapel participating in the discussion. These engagements aimed at fostering a healthy perspective on law enforcement from an early age. Dr. Yusef emphasized the importance of making wise personal choices to minimize unnecessary police encounters and educated the youngsters on how to respond appropriately during stops, including the proper way to file complaints if needed.

Kemba Smith Pradia, an author and criminal justice consultant, accompanies the commission, sharing her multifaceted insights. Having a background that intertwines personal experiences with law enforcement and her role on the parole board, Pradia brings a unique perspective. She advocates for understanding the fears of law enforcement and encourages the community to recognize and address these concerns.

Pradia also emphasized the role of individual responsibility in these interactions. “I think that in building trust in our communities, we have to take ownership of some of our own decisions and choices that lead us into these altercations with law enforcement,” she remarked.

This impactful campaign is a collaborative effort, supported by the Arkansas Pen and Pencil Project and the National Alliance of Faith and Justice. The goal is to maintain these conversations, fostering stronger, more understanding communities for the future. By encouraging ongoing dialogue and understanding, the “I Fear for My Life Campaign” seeks to make lasting changes, one conversation at a time.

Ethan Sullivan

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