Columbus activist weighs in on national officer-involved shootings

Columbus activist weighs in on national officer involved shootings

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Following two new national examples of police and community clashes, activists in the Valley are speaking out on how real change can be made.

Columbus officials and activists alike are aware of the need to continue to grow and improve relationships between citizens and law enforcement.

Earlier this summer, a large town hall meeting was held to hash out thoughts on how.

In light of recent shootings, activists are now turning to new ideas to evoke change.

"There aren't any signs that say 'Blacks Only,' or 'Whites Only here,' now they just don't give you a job. Now there is mass incarceration, now poverty still reigns high," said activist Marquese Averett.

From protests following a string of officer involved shootings to public forums designed to hash out concerns locally, Columbus residents have done their fair share to get involved in the race-relation discussion happening across the country.

Following new tensions and deadly altercations this week in Charlotte and Tulsa, activists are once again speaking out.

Averett, one such community leader, is encouraging residents to go beyond protests and taking to social media to vet issues. He says it's important to support minority banks and businesses, to evoke practical change and the rising of what he calls are oppressed communities.

"If you will not respect our issues, then we'll take our money somewhere else. Us, as those who have been oppressed, and that isn't just black people, that isn't just brown people, but I also believe there's poor people just as well," said Averett.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson previously told News Leader 9 the Columbus police department has a rigid use of force protocol, along with extensive race and cultural training to promote a healthy environment for all to feel safe and to be treated fairly in the Fountain City.

"We do a lot of the things that it appears from the nation's conversation that a lot of police departments are just beginning to think about," said Tomlinson.

WTVM also spoke with Columbus' local NAACP leader, Tonza Thomas, and she says she wants the community to go beyond protests as well.

Thomas encourages voting within minority communities and believes that will lead to legislators and legislation that will prevent the kinds of events happening nationally.

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