PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The fatal shooting of several police officers last week in Dallas has prompted Pittsburgh officials to come together to talk about building better relationships between police and the community.
The Dallas shooting has been a call for action for everyone, including people of faith.
The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network believes it’s time to move beyond marches and vigils, and deal with the root causes of problems between the black community and police.
Rev. Rodney Lyde, with Baptist Temple Church, blames structural racism and economic inequity.
“That’s where we see the manifestation in the lack of affordable housing in the middle of redevelopment, that’s where we see the manifestation as we think about the disparities in education,” said Rev. Lyde.
After watching the news of police shootings of African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana along with the killing of police officers in Dallas, Rev. Lyde says PIIN has been working with Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McClay.
He says Pittsburgh is on its way to having a police bureau of the 21st century.
“Officers have been trained in implicit biased and procedural justice as per our commitment,” said Rev. Lyde.
PIIN is a coalition of black and white congregations.
Rev. Dave Swanson, with the Pittsburgh Mennonite Church, says he believes there is still a long way to go to bring change.
“We are angry about the violence directed at the bodies and persons of color perpetrated by police, but we recognize police officers are performing actions that are the logic outcome of implicit racial bias,” Rev. Swanson said.
He says the organization wants everyone to have a face-to-face talk about race.
“An opportunity for persons of different communities to come together and hear one another, maybe for the first time,” Rev. Swanson reports.
Tim Stevens, the director of the Black Political Empowerment Project tells the “KDKA Morning News” he congratulates, “The mayor and the county [executive] and the chief and all the community leaders and regular folks that came together across racial lines. We’re trying to bridge the gap.”
You can learn more at the Black Political Empowerment Project at: www.b-pep.net