Activist Jedidiah Brown addresses reporters after attending a three-hour long meeting to discuss race relations at a Mount Greenwood high school on Nov. 16, 2016. | Sam Charles/Sun-Times

‘Hard truths’ in discussion of race relations in Mount Greenwood

SHARE ‘Hard truths’ in discussion of race relations in Mount Greenwood
SHARE ‘Hard truths’ in discussion of race relations in Mount Greenwood

Mount Greenwood residents and activists met for the second time Wednesday evening to discuss race relations in the Far Southwest Side neighborhood in the wake of protests that were sparked by a fatal police shooting earlier this month.

The meeting of about 45 people — which began at 6:30 p.m. at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and ran until about 9:25 p.m. — was “tough” but “beautiful,” according to some attendees.

“We dealt with some very hard truths, some very hard realities as Americans in the city of Chicago,” said Jedidiah Brown, an activist. “We decided not to judge each other by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character, which came out in these hard conversations.”

Brown added that he was “honored” to have been able to meet “with some of the most brilliant minds in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood.”

Glen Brooks, an area coordinator with the Chicago Police Department, moderated the meeting and said the topics discussed were wide-ranging and there was “a healthy exchange.”

“At moments, it was tense, but the goal was to make progress, which they did,” Brooks said.

Another meeting to discuss race relations had beenheld on Tuesday night, and other events are being scheduled, according to Brooks.

Representatives from the Independent Police Review Authority were also in attendance and gave an explanation of their investigation process.

IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley told reporters she was proud to see the community addressing race relations.

“To see people whose sole goal is to try to come together to achieve peace and harmony and work out their differences in a positive and constructive way. . . . This is just tremendously important,” Fairley said.

Meeting attendees said a “solidarity dinner” will be held with community residents and activists at St. Christina Parish in Mount Greenwood.

At the beginning of the meeting, Brooks told the attendees that Tuesday’s meeting had been tense at times, though there was progress.

“We decided that we wanted to continue to have a frank and honest conversation,” Brooks said. “And I can tell you honestly there was a point in that conversation that it got heated. There were some exchanges, but everyone agreed this conversation has to go forward.”

Shortly after, Brooks asked a Chicago Sun-Times reporter to leave the meeting to allow the attendees to speak more freely. Other media outlets that arrived soon after also were not allowed inside.

The meetings came less than a week after Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) and the principal of Marist High School had a meeting with representatives from Black Lives Matter Youth at Chicago Public Schools headquarters downtown.

In that meeting, Johnson agreed to meet once a month with Black Lives Matter Youth to discuss race relations in the city.

That meeting was prompted after a protest planned at Marist was canceled after potential protesters received death threats. That initial protest was aimed to be in response to “racially charged” social media posts involving Marist students following the shooting death of Joshua Beal by Chicago Police officers in Mount Greenwood earlier this month.

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