Article written by By Ivanna Williams, Reporter, and published on the KSWO Website Sept 15, 2014: http://www.kswo.com/story/26490961/lawton-naacp-works-to-build-better-relationships
LAWTON, Okla._A local civil rights organization is working to improve the relationship between the Lawton citizens and law enforcement.
The Lawton chapter of the NAACP held a press conference where they discussed the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and what can be done to keep that from happening here.
One member, Pastor Willie Smith, attended a forum Monday at Cameron University along with Police Chief James Smith. They talked about how to build a better relationship in the city. It allowed the students and officers to express themselves. Smith believes if Ferguson had something like that, it would’ve helped to prevent things from getting out of hand.
It’s been exactly one month since the killing of the unarmed teen Michael Brown. Since then, many people have brought up the disconnect between the police and citizens.
“I believe what’s happening in Ferguson, they’re working from a corrective standpoint because they did not have a relationship. And when you have a broken relationship, when you have disparity, then distrust sets in. And from there…you see what they’re going through,” said Pastor Smith.
Smith, along with the other NAACP members, believes it stems from something else…a lack of understanding.
“Sometimes we look at a situation from the lenses of our own experiences. And sometimes police need to look at a matter through the lens of a citizen. And citizens need to look through the lens of a police officer,” said Pastor Smith. “Then we are making a judgment that is really not sound. And we can do more damage that we can otherwise.”
Now the NAACP is reaching out to young people because that’s where they say teaching starts.
“The battles are won at the polls, not in the streets and not with guns and knives,” said Pastor Smith.
Smith says they will also be reaching out to more young people to inform them about their constitutional rights and local rights. Smith says he knows they will be successful in getting the community involved and is grateful that the police department is on board.
“We have a great police chief, so the potential for building the relationship is there,” said Pastor Smith.
The NAACP will be hosting a “Justice and Equality” banquet on September 22 with Senator Connie Johnson as the keynote speaker.
If you are looking to join, you can visit their website at lawtonnaacp.org.