COLUMBUS (WCMH) — More than 150 students, government officials, police officers, non-profit and private sector service providers gathered at the Columbus Police Academy Wednesday to have a Big Table conversation about the issues and opportunities for young boys and men of color.
The topic of discussion is how the African-American community and police can work together to make a stronger city.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said they can’t do it alone.
“Law enforcement will not solve this by themselves,” said Ginther. “It has to be a community response.”
My Brother’s Keeper aims to provide services, opportunities, and guidance for the young men and boys of color in central Ohio.
The hope is that these teens, once given some support, will make their communities better.
One major goal of the organization is to understand and attempt to solve the violence between police and some of the communities they serve.
Two Briggs High School juniors believe it has a lot to do with race.
“So I usually say either we portray ourselves for them to come at us like this, or why are they doing this? Is it on purpose or is it not on purpose?” said Mario Turner.
“People assume that you’re something that you’re not or suspicious of you doing something that you’re not,” added fellow student Xavier Jennings.
Jennings went on to explain how he wasn’t always a good kid, and said it all changed thanks to an officer who inspired him.
“He told me that I could do it, and that I don’t have to be the same person I am today.”
It’s those kinds of relationships that has both adults and teens excited about the future of this program.
In 2016, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Councilmember Shannon Hardin worked to support this program by establishing a full-time position dedicated to the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative in the Department of Neighborhoods.