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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Protest planned of city-sponsored community meeting with police chief

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 4:10 PM

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Tonight, as Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute are inside the Citrus Bowl for an "interactive workshop" that will (and this is a mouthful) "utilize innovative communication strategies to foster ongoing citizen engagement and conversation" between city residents and police, a group of activists and family members of people who say they've been victims of the use of excessive force by police will gather outside for a counter-event. 

The National Action Network Central Florida Chapter, Racial and Social Justice Alliance, Women of Color Leadership Coalition, Fight Back Coalition and others are telling the community to "say no" to the official meeting at the Citrus Bowl and join them outside, instead, to demand  a zero-tolerance policy for use of excessive force by law enforcement, as well as an independent elected police citizen review board. 

The Dyer-Mina meeting's goals are, according to a press release, to create a "safe space for open, honest communication" and to "increase awareness and understanding of policing practices." It also mentions increasing citizen engagement and strengthening "interpersonal relationships." 

According to Michelle Guido, public information officer for the Orlando Police, the event is being facilitated by the Peace and Justice Institute. It will be organized into 40 tables of four participants, and each will have an OPD representative at the table to talk with them. She says that participation in the event was was to the public for signup, but it filled up quickly. 

We reached out to Lawanna Gelzer, president of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Action Network, for more information about the opposing event, but we haven't heard back from her yet. But in a press release, she was quoted as saying: “Who is Policing the Police? The community demands accountability, zero-tolerance Policy, transparency, independent elected police citizen review boards and now it is clear that must start from the top.”. 

Orlando Weekly reporter Monivette Cordeiro will be at the events this evening, and she'll have an update in the morning. In the meantime, here are the press releases from each event – if you care about policing in Orlando, you should definitely show up at the Citrus Bowl tonight and get a taste of both events. Follow up with us tomorrow at for an update on the events.

See below for the text of the city's press release and the National Action Network's flyer. 

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, City Commissioners and Police Chief John Mina Host Orlando Speaks

Community-Building Workshop will Further Engage Citizens and the City Together

Orlando Mayor Dyer, City Commissioners and Police Chief John Mina in partnership with the Valencia College Peace and Justice Institute, will join residents for Orlando Speaks. Orlando Speaks is a series of interactive workshops that will utilize innovative communication strategies to foster ongoing citizen engagement and conversation between Orlando residents, the City and the Orlando Police Department to better serve and celebrate the community’s diversity. Having these conversations are critical to moving the City forward, bringing the community closer together, strengthening the diversity of Orlando and ensuring that the City remains safe, inclusive and accepting of all.

At Mayor Dyer’s State of the City, he spoke about the importance of community policing and the critical role it has in reducing crime and creating trust between residents and the police. The first Orlando Speaks workshop will focus on strengthening relationships between police officers and residents while enhancing the City’s community policing initiative. The workshop will provide a forum for Orlando residents of different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to engage with the City and Orlando police officers in meaningful dialogue to foster respect and inclusion of all people, raise awareness and increase understanding.

The goals of the workshop are to:
Create a safe space for open, honest communication
Increase awareness and understanding of policing practices
Strengthen interpersonal relationships through the sharing of personal stories and experiences
Develop trust and sensitivity to support interactions with one another
Expand citizen engagement

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

6:15 p.m. – Workshop begins promptly. Late arrivals are strongly discouraged as they could be disruptive to the dialogue and conversation.

9:00 p.m. – At the conclusion of the workshop, interviews with Mayor Dyer, City Commissioners, Chief Mina and workshop participants will be available.

**Due to the nature of this event, media must RSVP in advance to attend. Please contact OPD PIO Michelle Guido by Friday, August 21, 2015.**

Orlando Citrus Bowl, East Indoor Club
1610 West Church Street

Media parking will be available in Lot 5 on the east side of the Citrus Bowl off Rio Grand Avenue between West South Street and Church Street.

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