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Falls forum scheduled on police, community relations

NIAGARA FALLS – Police killings of African Americans across the country have led to protests and tension.

An upcoming Niagara Falls community forum called “Talking Matters” is designed to address these issues in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way, said Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed Sr., D-4th district.

The public is invited to “Talking Matters” from 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 25 at Trinity Baptist Church, 1366 South Ave., to share positive ideas and solutions that affect Niagara Falls.

Guests at the forum include representatives of the Niagara Falls Police Department; Niagara Falls Superintendent of Schools Mark Laurrie; members of the city’s Board of Education and City Council; Mayor Paul A. Dyster; Judge Diane Vitello; attorney John Elmore; Assemblyman John Ceretto, D-Lewiston; Richard Thomas of New Jerusalem Boys & Girls Reporting Center; and others.

Steed said the discussion is designed to humanize police officers as well as illustrate that every person in a hoody is not a thug.

Steed said it was especially important to discuss some of the issues youth face.

“Kids today carry a lot of baggage into school with them,” said Steed. “When young kids don’t make it to school, attendance wise, we need to figure out why.”

Questionnaires and volunteer forms will be available at barber shops, churches and the Highland Avenue Renaissance Place, 2610 Highland Ave., so that everyone will have an opportunity to share their concerns and ideas, as well as be directed to services.

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