The meeting for “Our Lives Matter” at the Mt. Raymond Full Gospel Baptist Church located at 2410 4th Avenue E., in Palmetto held on Wednesday, August 3 with the community, Pastors, organizations and law enforcement from Bradenton and Palmetto which included Manatee County Sheriff, Brad Stuebe, Rick Wells, Palmetto Chief of Police, Bradenton Police Department , many Resource Officers and others from Manatee County law enforcement agencies and Manatee County Commissioner Charles Smith on the panel.

There have been many meetings and millions of times a group of people have quoted the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and then pass by each other in the days for months and years and the children in the village fell to the wayside and the group of people remain strangers. The community meetings that have been occurring the past few weeks in Manatee and Sarasota county have been tenuous at times, heated, passionate and the feeling afterwards is very little has been accomplished. The feeling from those attending from the African-American communities is the vast chasm of caring and trust is still broken and too far apart.

The forum began with several pastors opening with prayer and hope filled speeches for audience members to come together, not to speak in hatred but to bring forth questions and concerns within the community and listen and be open to what law enforcement had to say to build a bridge between community and law enforcement. Sheriff Brad Stuebe spoke on the many programs and areas where he feels law enforcement has made progress within the community. Stuebe stated his main focus and goal is to gain the trust and respect of all community members and for officers to be able to do their job every day with respect and care for all citizens. Stuebe also said he wanted citizens to let him know right away when there are issues and concerns. Palmetto and Bradenton law enforcement representatives echoed their agreement in the matter of having the goal for all law enforcement officers being fair, honest and performing their duties in the best interest of all citizens regardless of the neighborhood, color of skin or culture. There were several in attendances who voiced concerns and distrust of how law enforcement handled complaints made against officers. The conversation continued throughout the forum on wanting fair treatment and how to build trust from and in law enforcement. The audience was encouraged to get involved in the Citizen’s Law Enforcemcent Academy where a person attends several weeks of training and gets to experience law enforcement from the perspective of officers. Also Sheriff Stuebe encouraged people to call him and others in City of Bradenton, Palmetto and City and County Commissioners to engage in conversations and to air concerns. Hopeful- ly community and law enforcement can come together in more engaging conversations and build trust and a genuine respect and concern for the entire village as so many in the community on both sides of the forum agreed, “Children to the eldest in the villages need to be protected and cared for and safe in the place where they live as well as feel connected.