An open conversation between local law enforcement and the community will be the focus of a “Dialogue for Peace and Progress” summit at 7 p.m. Friday at Kyle City Hall.
City Council member Dex Ellison will moderate the event, said to be the first such discussion.
“This as a springboard to education and understanding of what is ailing or might be lurking in the shadows to breed distrust and concerns in our community,” Ellison said. “Only then can we identify what truly needs to be addressed or changed about our approach to building mutually safe, respectful and empathetic relationships between those that make, those that enforce and those living by laws passed.”
Ellison said the first step to identifying issues is education and he hopes that many in the community will see the panel as a starting point for future conversations and action.
“We must first educate ourselves, so we know exactly what we are standing for and why we are standing for it. Solving this issue takes exposure, education, compassion and empathy,” Ellison said. “We hope this is just the beginnings of many more actions to come. The momentum must be sustained, and the moment cannot be lost.”
A group of panelists from a multitude of perspectives and backgrounds have been recruited to participate, including: Mayor Travis Mitchell, Chief of Police James Barnett, Police Chaplain Marquet Curl, President of the Kyle Law Enforcement Association Phillip Cleary, Keito Academy of Ethno-Cultural Performing Arts Executive Director Keito St. James, Founder and President of Kyle Cultural Awareness Laura McMahon, Ben Wempe of JP Morgan, standup comedian and former teacher Winston Dean, Director of Marketing at BrainJuice, LLC and recording artist Richard Robinson, former Texas State University instructor and former executive director of the Calaboose African American History Museum Vanessa Westbrook, Marine veteran and managing principal and Chief Financial Planner at Simonet Financial Group Bill Simonet, father of four and editor-in-chief of INSTORE Magazine Trace Shelton, Gladys Carrillo and Mariah Santos of Mothers4BlackLives, current General Counsel for the Hays County Republican Party Bud Wymore and Rubén Castañeda, who works to defend children and juveniles in the Travis County juvenile court system.
“We hope that people all over this city and area tune in with their families, and then feel encouraged to then have further discussions within their homes, amongst neighbors, churches, community organizations, officials, law enforcement and so on,” Ellison said.
The event will be held in-person at Kyle City Hall, 110 W. Center St., but other options for participation include streaming the panel online through Kyle10, the city’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/cityofkyletx) or the City of Kyle Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cityofkyletx/live/).