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Unity meeting set Thursday with Gainesville police, city officials
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Unity meeting

What: Meeting between African-American residents, community organizers and church leaders with city officials and police. The public is welcome.

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

For more information: the Rev. Robert Washington, 770-851-5558

Communities across the nation are still reeling from the events last week that left two black men dead at the hands of white police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and five police officers in Dallas murdered by a black sniper during an otherwise peaceful street protest.

Today, Gainesville residents will come together with city and police officials in a spirit of unity.

“When we look at hurting, disappointment, frustration, anxiety and lack of love, it affects every culture the same,” said the Rev. Robert Washington of the Grace Center of Hope in Gainesville.

The public is welcome to congregate at the Public Safety Complex beginning at 5 p.m. for the show of togetherness and community connection.

Organizers said they want to be “proactive, not reactive” to make sure the events of last week never occur here at home by putting “things in place to keep our community from becoming that.”

“Let’s keep the hurting to a minimum,” Washington said. “Let’s not let our community become divided where we got to start marching and rioting and burning this down and burning that down ... because nobody’s voice is being heard.”

The event is part of several ongoing initiatives from local African-American leaders to respond constructively to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has called attention to the deadly use of force by police.

The protests have, at times, been criticized as anti-law enforcement, an attitude organizers want to address.

“We want police officers to be able to go home at night,” Washington said. “But we want people to be able to go home at night, as well.”


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