Thursday night, August 2, participants of the July 12 Chalk Walk protest at Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk are helping organize a Community Town Hall meeting to provide space for sharing ideas, concerns, and suggestions for moving forward together as members of the community of Downtown Los Angeles.
“The goal of the Town Hall meeting is to listen to each other,” said one organizer, adding "This community was traumatized by police violence and already struggles with other concerns."
At last the recent Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, LAPD officers in riot gear shut down the streets, closed galleries and businesses and injured half a dozen bystanders in response to a small group of people writing and drawing with washable children's sidewalk chalk on sidewalks, streets, and buildings.
The small group of Chalk Walk participants has come together with other community members to form the "Creating Community Awareness Coalition" (CCAC) in response to a desire to build bridges between the diverse communities that live, work, organize, and play in downtown Los Angeles.
In the days after the July 12 Art Walk fiasco, a small group of Chalk Walk participants began reaching out the local community. Through their outreach, they came across some community members who support their efforts at creating consensus and have helped them organize this first of what are planned as a series of Town Hall meetings, and to network with more members of the community.
Downtown historians and founding board members of the Art Walk non-profit Richard Schave and Kim Cooper have supported the organizers of the Downtown Community Town Hall meeting.
"Downtown has needed something like this for a long time: a place without an agenda where the community can come together to work through its issues, form connections and address problems before they get out of control," said Richard Schave, founding Director of the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk.
United Methodist Church has agreed to sponsor the Town Hall meeting and Reverend Sandie Richards, also a founding board member of the Art Walk non-profit, has agreed to help organize and facilitate the format of the town hall meeting.
"We want to bridge the gaps in this diverse community," said Rev. Richards, "one way to do that is to listen to each other."
Rev. Richards has structured the meeting so that everyone will get a chance to talk to a partner and everyone will get a chance to listen to their partner as well.
Following the July 12 police incidents at Art Walk, a few Chalk Walk participants began going door-to-door to speak with the affected small businesses owners and workers, and have passed out fliers in the neighborhood. Among the materials shared are a copy of the original Chalk Walk press release and a briefing statement that the Chalk Walk organizers prepared before the July 12 Art Walk.
The Creating Community Awareness Coalition (CCAC) invites anyone affected or concerned by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) violence at July’s Downtown LA Art Walk to join them at the Community Town Hall meeting, including residents, artists, workers, patrons, owners of small businesses, and community organizers.
All community members are welcome, and are encouraged to spread the word.
The Town Hall will take place in a rehearsal room in the Los Angeles Theatre Center on Thursday, August 2,starting at 6:30 p.m. and going until about 8:30 p.m. The organizers will provide light refreshments.
The organizers ask that no uniformed police officers attend with guns or other law enforcement weapons, in light of the police violence recently experienced by the community.
"We want to create a safe space where people can communicate without having traumatic triggers in the room," said another organizer.
Also, the organizers encourage city officials and public employee to attend as community members, without pushing a political agenda.
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Posted: Wednesday, 2 August 2012