Snippets airing on every local news channel of 25 uniformed LAPD Officers showing up to start the dialog with 25 youth and young adult African American members in the community. The initiative titled “Perceptions, Empathy & Unification” (PEU) was hosted by Pastor Shep Crawford of the Experience Christian Ministries located at 326 E. 47th Place in South Los Angeles. PEU would be the first of its kind where officers were invited to participate in one-on-one sessions, for one hour with one African American youth/young adult from the community for candid conversations about perceptions on both sides. Both sides were given a list of questions/concerns after polling both the officers and the African American Community.
The event opened up with prayer by youth minister Terry Berry, followed by an explanation of the event by Pastor Shep Crawford after which, Sergeant Ronald Kinji, who grew up in the South Los Angeles neighborhood took the stage to express the importance of this meeting being an effort to better understand one another and to gain the trust of local law enforcement as an allied and not an enemy.
“Understanding is one of the basic things needed in order for someone to even want to create a change in any system. It should be as simple as saying that my life matters, but that alone hasn’t worked so we have to do all we can, even having tough conversations like this to gain that understanding. This event allowed me to give context to my anger. I saw the officer I spoke to as a human being and I think he saw me too and that itself is powerful” says young adult participant Lauryn Crawford.
“We are constantly trying to do things better and we are setting a precedents among all police departments for reform.” quoted one of the veteran officers.
“Pastor Shep and I really wanted to bring everyone together to do one-on-one’s because you are really going to be authentic and you’re gonna say what you want to say”, says Sergeant Kinji.
“I knew that the decision we made to hold this event wouldn’t be too popular amongst many in our current climate, but it was necessary to help birth the next step in a much-needed progression of change” says Pastor Shep.
The face-to-face sessions prove to be a step in the right direction as both sides reported leaving with a much greater understanding and awareness of how they are perceived and how to change those perceptions. Others to take the stage with words of encouragement and testimonials include Minister LA-Zay, Lauryn Crawford, Sergeant Clement Toscano, Captain Alex Baez, and Councilman Curren Price Jr. of the 9th District.
The event concluded on a high note with talks of unity, followed by a hot meal and great fellowshipping with one another.
About Pastor Shep Crawford
Sr. Pastor Anthony “Shep” Crawford is no stranger to the news media. He gained national recognition as the pastor that eulogized the late rapper Nipsey Hussle. Pastor Shep along with wife/Co Pastor Dr. Shalonda Crawford started the Experience Christian Ministries in South Los Angeles in October of 2010. Since moving the church into the gang embattled neighborhood, Pastor Shep has had his boots on the ground working throughout the community with council members and rival gang members to promote peace and unity, providing resources, feeding the homeless and scheduled community clean-ups to help restore pride to the neighborhood. Pastor Shep has been seen leading the charge to help educate the youth and young adults during the protests. To learn more please visit them at www.theEcm.org.News Clips:https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/south-park-church-hosts-conversations-between-lapd-officers-black-young-adults/2378327/
Written by: Reid J. Rich, Sr. Publicist