[In Pictures] Concert Rally for Black Lives Matter, Law Enforcement and Peace in Paducah
A group of concerned citizens congregated in Paducah’s Noble Park on Sunday to recognize the recent spates of violence and racial tension across the country and try to find common ground.
The Concert Rally for Peace drew a crowd of more than 50 to the park’s amphitheatre for music, poetry and to bridge differences of opinion.
Organizer Jody Surheinrich says the event was dedicated jointly to Black Lives Matter, law enforcement and the City of Paducah and that she wanted to incorporate a gathering to better dialogue between communities and police.
“That might be another goal of tonight, to show that it’s not us versus them," said Surheinrich. "It’s part of our family is broken in the human race, when someone is in trouble, you help them. And the focus is Black Lives Matter right now, and police lives at the same time.”
Hours before, three Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officers were shot and killed in an apparent act of revenge for recent police shootings of black men. Babydoll Kennedy is a pastor with Brooks Chapel AME church. She says the vigil is only one step the community can take to preventing that sort of discord.
"And I think this is Paducah’s opportunity to insert themselves into the conversation as it pertains to race so that stuff that is happening world wide does not affect us here, does not happen here," said Kennedy. "And if it does happen here, we’ll have an intelligent response and one that shows justice."
But Reverend Kennedy says there’s still more to be done, including encouraging people to not be complacent to ‘casual racism’ and to have police officers more visible in underrepresented communities.
"That's what's lacking," said Kennedy. "If police officers started to come more into communities and engage them rather than just police them, that would help people gain their trust and also help them to see that they are people just like they are and also help police officers to see that we too are human and that not every time a police officer comes near us, it's not automatically combative."
The open forum-style event attracted poets, musicians, prayer speakers and other forms of artistry. Surheinrich says she wants to have more events like this and hopes it's the start of a more open dialogue within the community.