Professional basketball players Carmelo Anthony and Tamika Catchings united LAPD officers with Los Angeles Youth and pro basketball players to discuss the topics related to the recent acts of fatal gun violence.
The meeting lasted for two hours and 200 people contributed to the canvass. Children of the Challengers Boys and Girls club and the Brotherhood Crusade also participated in the discussion.
“It was really a way to engage our community in a positive way and look at what are next steps and solutions,” said Charisse Weaver, president of the Brotherhood Crusade. “It was an honest, candid, conversation around accountability, around profiling, around hands-up. Making sure that we have this dialogue with young people, that law enforcement is part of our community, they’re part of the solution.”
Ages of the youth ranged from 13 to 23, they expressed their varied feelings for law enforcement. At times, the conversations brought forth tension and tears among the participants.
“The girls and the guys that spoke, it was more of like, we want to spark the change; we will begin this conversation, we will begin the change,” Catchings said. “But now it’s not just about a conversation. Now it’s about putting things into action and making sure that together, we keep that conversation alive and that we put forth the action behind that.”
Anthony mentioned the children brought up issues on respect, communication, and education. He noticed how there could be a lack of knowledge on conduct when officers stop civilians.
“I think that kind of gets lost in translation a little bit, I don’t think our youth are as educated on those things,” Anthony said. “A lot of our youth who are in these situations don’t have the parents at home to focus in on those topics at hand.”
Police officers of all ranks attended the event, according to Deputy Chief William Scott. He noted how the output of the adolescents changed his perspective.
“The youth, these conversations were very deep, at least in my group,” Scott said. “It gave us a place to talk where we actually could say things that you normally don’t get to say or hear from particularly people of that age, the youth.”
A significant take away for Boys and Girls Metro L.A. president Calvin Lyons was the issue of bridge building between civilian and officers.
“How do we start here and bridge communities where youth understand how the law enforcement community works and lives, and how the law enforcement officers understand the youth,” Lyons said. “From a local level, how do we take this conversation from Los Angeles across the country? I think that our organization, the Boys & Girls Club, is standing ready to make that happen.”
NBA Cares and the NBPA Foundation also contributed in the discussions. The idea of the event originated after Anthony witnessed the recent tragedies on CNN. Anthony took to social media, writing a post that inspired the opening speech at the ESPYS.
“I went to bed and I woke up in the middle of the night, and I just started typing. And as I was typing, I just started speaking,” Anthony said. “I spoke from the heart, and the first thing that came to my mind is I have to get my athletes, my fellow athletes, to step up and use their voice and use their platform in the best way that they can.”