SUN PRAIRIE, WI (CNN) – A week after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed bi-racial teen in Wisconsin. Community leaders and residents gathered to remember 19-year-old Tony Robinson. The shooting sparked protests over police use of excessive force. And leaders at Friday’s forum are looking for ways to help the community work together.
Teens, African American community leaders and Madison police Chief Mike Koval joined hands and prayed. On everyone’s mind, the tragedy that intensified conversations about race, the death of Tony Robinson exactly one week ago. “Tony was one of our students and we’re very proud of him for that, and we are crushed by this loss.”
Bishop Harold Rayford says it’s important for young people to express how they’re feeling. “We need them to be engaged in the process. We need them to march.” An emotional Chief Koval addressed the crowd.
But Bishop Rayford says the forum was also to push forward conversations about racial disparities and find ways to increase opportunities for young African Americans. “If we start to work together, I think that’s the only way we’re going to see a difference.” “The message is thank you for giving us an opportunity to begin the difficult role of healing and reconciliation.”
Organizations, like the n double-a c-p, big brothers, big sisters and the urban league, pledge to work together. “I think the key is collaboration. In the past, we’ve had boots on the ground but everybody has been working in their own trench.” “I do think it’s going to be beneficial because i feel like the community can see that we are all here together. Our leaders are here to help and they’re here to talk.”
And though healing may be a long process, Bishop Harold says he hopes people have faith. “I want hearts to feel hope. I don’t want people to feel like that this is hopeless battle.”
The officer who shot Tony Robinson is on administrative leave during the investigation. It’s the second fatal shooting by the 12-year veteran of the force. Tony Robinson’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
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