djr-2020-06-01-news-protest-twp2

Protesters gather at Fairpark in Tupelo to protest the death George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn.

TUPELO • A local grassroots organization will host a peaceful, community-wide march and listening session on Saturday afternoon to discuss concerns that citizens have regarding local law enforcement and how city officials can implement reforms to improve the relationship between citizens and police officers.

The group, Indivisible Northeast Mississippi, plans to meet and organize at 2 p.m. at the civil rights monument near the courthouse in downtown Tupelo. Afterward, the participants plan to march from the Square to the Fairpark area near the front of City Hall.

Hannah Maharrey, a member of Tupelo’s outreach task force, is one of the lead organizers of the Saturday event. She told the Daily Journal that she hopes the event will visualize the number of people in Tupelo that are speaking out about social injustice and will also give concerned people an outlet to address their city officials.

“We want this to be a continuation of the dialogue that our community needs,” Maharrey said. “Dialogue doesn’t mean anything, though, if there’s not action taken to address the concerns.”

Maharrey said the organizers of the event plan to have a place where people can submit written comments and concerns if they don’t want to speak publicly. Those comments will also be submitted to city officials.

Community leaders and citizens are scheduled to speak out about concerns they have regarding law enforcement. Local elected officials, including Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, are expected to respond to the concerns.

Lucia Randle, the city’s communications director, told the Daily Journal that the group did submit a parade and event permit for the march and that both permits are currently being processed.

Mary Jane Meadows, a member of the group organizing the event, told the Daily Journal that people attending the event will obtain resources that will help them to hold their elected representatives accountable.

Attendees will get resources that contain the contact information of their local, state and federal officials.

“Unless we tell them how we feel in numbers, change won’t happen,” Meadows said.

The Saturday march will be the third protest held in Tupelo since the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who died in police custody last week. Since then, every state in the nation has seen protests in response to Floyd’s death.

Teresa Sields Roberts, another member of the organization, told the Daily Journal that she also hopes the Saturday event will be the first step in of an ongoing dialogue that citizens can have with local leaders about concerns they have.

“We know that people are hurting, people are angry and people just need to have an outlet to show that we care,” Roberts said. “I think that this protest that’s being led by Indivisible is giving people a sense of empowerment to do that, regardless of what race you might be.”

On May 31, local citizens participated in a peaceful protest in the Fairpark area. On Tuesday, around 15 local ministers participated in a “clergy call for justice” rally where the pastors spoke out against systemic racism.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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