Speaker at podium
| DGLimages

A community forum scheduled for Monday evening will explore next steps to bridge the gap between local officials and the black community in the aftermath of social justice protests.

The forum is being held Monday at 6 p.m. at Cannon Funeral Home, 317 W. Memorial Blvd. Seating will be limited because of social distancing, so it will be live-streamed via the Facebook page for the event, organizer AL Lewis said. Attendees are asked to wear masks.

The forum is called “Call to Consciousness: Local Officials & the Black Community.” Eight panelists will speak for about 10 minutes each and then take questions from the audience.

“The people are looking for hope, action and equality,” said Lewis, a Lakeland native and law school graduate. “My goal is provide our community with a plan of action to ensure we are all treated equal and that we belong just as much as the next.”

Panelists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Don Brown, former president of the Lakeland branch of the NAACP
  • Reginald Cannon, owner of Cannon Funeral Home
  • Ruben Garcia, Lakeland chief of police
  • Stetson Glass, deacon at Oasis Community Church. He was one of two people arrested in a protest last Sunday in Lakeland.
  • Vance Monroe, major with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bill Mutz, mayor of Lakeland
  • Jarvis Washington, president of Black Lives Matter Polk Restoration Inc.
  • Charles E. Williams, pastor of Bethel Gospel Tabernacle

The event follows by one day Sunday’s march and protest planned by Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk. Rally organizers say they expect about 2,000 people to participate. Clergy have been invited to walk at the front of the march, and police will be positioned along the route.

A similar protest last Sunday attracted hundreds — maybe 1,000 or more — to Munn Park and was part of nationwide protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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