Liberty County Branch NAACP President Graylan Quarterman calls his organization’s Justice and Education Teach-In set for this weekend an opportunity to be proactive in the wake of a series of shootings that have killed both police and civilians around the country.
It’s a chance, Quarterman said, to “make sure we not only identify just how lucky we are that none of these terrible incidents happened in Liberty County while also being mindful that we are not immune to an incident like that happening here and doing what we can to make sure it does not happen here.”
The teach-in starts at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center and is expected to go at least two hours.
“This is where we can come in and make sure we sit down and talk about he kind of relationship our community has with police, and what do we do if we do have a tragedy of such magnitude in our community,” Quarterman said. “But most importantly, what do we do to help us avoid that?”
The event begins with a roundtable discussion followed by a public presentation. Among those expected to participate is Semaj Clark, a teenager from Los Angeles who was shot and paralyzed in Savannah in October. He has since started his own anti-violence and youth advocacy group, FIRE.
Others invited and expected to attend include government, law enforcement, civic, school and religious leaders. Quarterman said he hopes the teach-in allows people to have a dialogue.
“We need to start talking to make sure the community has a working relationship with law enforcement, as well as with all our leaders in the community,” he said. “There is a big buzzword in our society about racial divide. One would ask if there is a racial problem in Liberty County. I would say there are racial differences, and we ought to, sometimes, sit down and talk about our differences. There are differences, and it’s alright to be different.”
Quarterman said the teach-in will also include youths to provide the “teen perspective.”
July was a deadly month for police officers — seven were killed in separate shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge by gunmen reportedly seeking revenge for police shootings of civilians. According to the Washington Post, in 2015 police shot and killed nearly 1,000 civilians.
Not all of the focus of Sunday’s teach-in will be on gun violence. There also will be discussion of Gov. Nathan Deal’s bid to create Opportunity School Districts. The NAACP is opposed to the measure, which will be on the ballot in November.
Quarterman, who is also the Georgia NAACP’s Region 1 director, said he has gotten positive response from those who have been asked to attend.
“My objective is that we come out of this teach-in with one idea that is important to the county and that everyone can get behind and support and work toward,” Quarterman said.
Those who want to attend the round table discussion are asked to call Briana Pickett at 813-409-0085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.