Last night I attended the “Choose Peace, Stop Violence” Community Conversation that was put on by the North Broward Prevention Coalition. There were many people in attendance including the Moss/Randall family, who lost one of its members to gun violence earlier this year.
The Moss/Randall family spoke on the situation that occurred in District 2 which lead to the loss of Lataurus Randall, son/brother/husband/father, back on January 14, 2011 after he was ambushed while playing golf. His brother Troy Randall spoke on behalf of the family and addressed the situation but he focused on the fact that police had not made an arrest yet. He advised the audience that before this situation he had no dealings with the police, but since he has realized that the police ar good guys. Many of whom have come over to their house and eaten Collard greens for the first time with their family, while trying to make breakthroughs in the case. He emphasized the fact that if anybody had any information regarding this case they should not be hesitant to come forward, so this case can be closed and their family can have closure. Mr. Randall made an observation that our Community, District 2 Deerfield Beach, has adopted a “Cain Mentality”. He explained what he meant and stated that we no longer hold to the values of I am my brother’s keeper and unless incidents actually affect us or our purse we do not get involved. He expressed his hope that this community could move beyond its Cain Mentality and go back to the strong familial bonds and traditions that used to comprise the black communities. “If you hurt one, you hurt all” he said. He pointed out that the assailants may have only intended to hurt his brother, but look at the consequence of that action and he pointed to all of his family members, many with tears on their faces by this point, as they sat and listened to his poignant and sorrowful words, that were hurt by this tragic event. . He ended his speech by introducing his nephew, the son of his slain brother and the young man of about 11. He spoke eloquently and asked that everyone get involved and help the police find the murderers of his father.
After that they served dinner and asked that while the attendees were eating that they discuss and answer 4 questions that were listed on the program. This was the conversation portion of the night and each table would get to individually discuss amongst themselves issues and concerns facing the community. Once the questions were answered the audience was asked to post them on boards and we would review them after the dinner session. So, after about 25 minutes we began as a group to discuss some of the responses that the audience had provided to the questions. These responses would be compiled by the organizers of the event to try and come up with a list of services that could be brought into the community to assist with getting the youth more involved and keep them off the streets.
I personally believe that the overwhelming resulting theme of the night was not that there were no programs available for the youth of our community, but that there is a gap in communication between the City and organizations offering these programs and the citizens who would benefit from them.
Mr. Terry Scott took an opportunity to inform the attendees and the event organizers that he felt he was lied to about the purpose of this event. He thought it would be an open forum for the community discuss its issues and that the City’s elected officials should have been invited so that they could “listen” to the citizens’ concerns, problems, and issues. He stated that he didn’t feel that an adequate conversation was taking place because no one was able to voice their concerns we just sat, ate, and listened to the speakers and he thinks that we need an open forum to discuss our issues. Dr. Davis got up and addressed Mr. Scott’s concerns and advised that elected officials were intentional left out because this was for the community and the group did not want a shouting match with the citizens arguing with the officials attempting to justify themselves. He stated that this was to give the citizens a chance to bear the souls and open their hearts and express themselves without having to justify their thoughts to anyone.
I got up and advised Mr. Scott and the attendees that the Community Action Team (CAT) holds an open forum each Monday before the City Commission meetings and the date for the next event which is May 16, 2011 at All My Children Day Care in Deerfield Beach at 7pm. I explained the goal of CAT is educate the District 2 residents on our City Government and how it works, along with the rules of the game. I further explained about the gap between our residents and City and how CAT is trying to bridge those gaps, as well as get the younger generation involved. I stated that our meetings are open to the public and are a forum for all attendees to openly discuss issues, concerns and we try to come up with new positive solutions, so we can bring them to the City Commission, especially in this time while we have no representation. Our method is that of an open forum and we try to compel everyone to get involved and speak, but we cannot force them, but we give them the opportunity.
I personally believe that this method was good because at least a dialogue was had by each table and a conversation in sued. I do think that it should have been opened up so that the thoughts could be expounded upon and addressed by the attendees, but each group works differently and has their own method of doing things. Like I said, I do believe it was an effective event and hopefully all in attendance and their friends will now get involved in the continued discussion in our community.