Monday, October 22, 2007

Student Tickets- The Focus Of The City

As the Pastor’s Assn. moves forward there are many areas of concern that we share. One such concern is for the Children that have been ticketed for J-walking at both Manual and Woodruff High Schools. Although we share many of the sentiments of the NAACP and the Dr. King King Holiday Cmte., we share those sentiments for vastly different reasons. We will set forth a clear record in this blog so that the public will not confuse our motivations with other community organizations.

On Sept. 28 2007 the Peoria Police Dept. engaged in an operation to address community disturbances in both the aforementioned High School areas. This was the first phase of a multi-phase operation. The result was 32 J-walking tickets issued to various students with the youngest student being 11 years old. Although tickets were issued for individuals obstructing traffic, there were eye-witness accounts that many students were not in violation of the ordinance, and were merely crossing the street.

Immediately, without investigation or further commentary, or even consideration for community organizations such as The Peoria Assn. of Pastors, who had successfully began dialogue on the subject of community harmony through the Peoria Gun Exchange; cries of racism spawned from the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors distanced itself from those accusations through it’s release to the Peoria Journal Star found at the following link:

Although racism exists within Peoria, The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors For Community & Spiritual Renewal do not believe that unfounded racial allegations should be used as a tool for social negotiations or for political gain. We further believe that unfounded allegations only further serve to divide and polarize the community and are a disservice to the goal of overall community harmony and peace. We feel that the best way to discover and dispose of racism is through honest, open and clear dialogue, and setting forth clear action plans to address the issues.

On Oct. 22nd 2007, there was a meeting between the Mr. Randy Oliver (City Manager), Police Chief Settingsgaard, Pastor Harvey Burnett, Dr. Rita Ali (The Dr. King Holiday Cmte.), Mr. Don Jackson (NAACP), and Mr. Clyde Gulley (1st Dist. Councilman) and certain other community leaders.
After much discussion, Pastor Burnett set forth the following ideas:

  • 1- The tickets written to the youth should be reduced to warnings with stipulations
    That this is a one time reduction and special exception
    Police Authority has not been undermined or circumvented.
    That the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. withdraw their allegations of racism
  • 2- That a community dialogue with the police should continue as to include certain designated representatives of the NAACP and the King Holiday Cmte. The reason we say "continue" is that a dialogue with the Police HAD ALREADY begun at the hand and request of the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors.
Tuesday Oct. 23rd 2007 a press conference has been scheduled at 1:00 PM at the Peoria Police Dept. During this event a formal announcement will be made that the ticket reduction recommendation has been accepted with the following stipulations:

  • This is a One Time Reduction.
  • The parents of each ticketed student will be notified and required to sign off .
  • The students will be required to attend a seminar on community and social responsibility
  • The community dialogue would continue as stated previously.

The NAACP however refused to withdraw it’s allegations of racial profiling and discrimination when challenged by Pastor Burnett. Because of their refusal, we do not believe that the allegation of racism or the failure to withdraw those allegations until full discussions have been concluded are a good faith effort by both the King Holiday Cmte. or the NAACP.

Special Note:

Racial polarization is not healthy for any facet of the Peoria community and is not a strategy that the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors endorses in resolving community disputes. Honest, open and candid discussion and relationship building is the way that we choose to fight racism at all levels. If diplomacy fails, public steps should be made to disclose all manner of evil, wrong and racism. Until then, the community is better served by leaders who ask questions first, make judgements secondly and who set forth strategies for sustained change.

Therefore we call and continue to pray for full racial reconciliation and a new strategy going forward as we begin a new day of black leadership with the Peoria community.

Even so come Lord Jesus!

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