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Gainesvilles Bell works to bring criminal justice reform to GOP convention
Gainesville attorney trying to work across party lines, has backing from Google, Facebook
Ashley Bell

Gainesville attorney Ashley Bell is on a mission to make the Republican Party more responsive to issues of social justice and criminal justice reform, and now he’s getting support from Google.

So he was expecting a little pushback when the journey has brought him to Cleveland and the GOP convention this week, where Donald Trump has secured the Republican nomination for president.

That’s where Bell’s 20/20 Club, which has its roots locally, held an event Tuesday night covered by the likes of Black Entertainment Television and Spanish-language Univision.

Billed as (Code) Red, an Old School Hip Hop Party, the event featured interviews with several 20/20 GOP leaders, including Bell.

“They’re coming at you from the left,” he said. “My goal was to provide an opportunity for our delegates to speak to that audience about why they were supporting (Trump).”

The 20/20 Leaders of America, of which Bell is a co-chair, is dedicated to bringing people together to “elevate issues disproportionately affecting communities of color above partisan politics.”

But as a Republican and former Hall County commissioner, Bell knows there’s added value in addressing the issues within the GOP.

He said many Georgia delegates to the convention were in attendance, including Latino minorities who shared why they support the party platform.  

But when trying to broaden your appeal to what might otherwise be political opponents, explaining that process and rationale is critical.

“You can’t juts go on those stations with talking points,” Bell said.

Bell launched a national initiative last year to address criminal justice reform, which previously included a partnership with social media giant Facebook to host a forum with 2016 presidential candidates.

And now with backing from the likes of Google to host similar events in the future, Bell said he is confident the 20/20 Club will be able to carry its message “to elevate issues of social justice in both parties” into the fall.

It shows that some issues can be addressed across party lines, Bell said, which comes at an important time for his party.

“Today is going to be the most important night of the election so far,” Bell said, adding that he expects Trump to stick to the teleprompter.

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