Real Stories, Real Relationships, and Real Solutions for Change
America has once again become embroiled in an often rancorous and highly charged conversation around race and policing. The Black Lives Matter movement has exposed pent up tensions and bone-deep suspicions in the black community around racial profiling, procedural injustice, implicit and explicit bias, and the excessive use of both lethal and nonlethal force. Especially following ambush style attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the law enforcement community is not only on guard against charges of impropriety, but also increasingly fearful for their safety in an already dangerous profession.
The Trust Talks offers an innovative dialogical model for key stakeholders in communities around the country to utilize the power of storytelling and problem solving to find what we call community sourced “small wins” to solve our most pressing issues in policing and community development.
The Trust Talks was created in January of 2015 by a team of faith and community leaders in collaboration with police officers in Downtown Los Angeles, California who were looking to find a role that the faith community could play in creating sacred space for community transformation, particularly in an area of the city experiencing the pressures of homelessness, addiction, poverty, mental illness and gentrification. Led by Pastor Delonte Gholston, a local children’s and youth pastor who was at the time volunteering as an intern at a local church in downtown LA, this team decided that the best way to get people together was to bring them around a common table to share their stories and to offer ways that they can collaborate on working together for change in their community.
In order to be as inclusive as possible, the initial team of faith and community leaders partnered with the LA County Human Relations Commission, the LAPD, and the City Attorney’s Office, and sought counsel and insight from the Center for Civic and Religious Culture at USC, the Masters in Transformational Urban Leadership at Azusa Pacific University, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAM) and from other key community partners. Together, the team and their partners began to reach out to local service providers, pastors, community activists with Black Lives Matter and the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and with business leaders in the Historic Core Business Improvement District to create a diverse coalition of community stakeholders.
At each of the twelve to fifteen facilitated tables, there are representatives from Skid Row, the Historic Core loft dweller community, the business community, the LAPD, city government, the activist community and the faith community. Thus far, The Trust Talks team has held three dialogical community forums, one panel discussion and numerous one-on-one community meetings bringing together nearly four hundred various community members and officers to share their stories and to sow seeds of trust and offer the vision and vehicles needed for change.
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