By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
In observance of the International Day of Peace, on Monday, September 21, an event themed “Healing the Breach” will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Great Hall in the University Center, 2501 N.W. Blackwelder at Oklahoma City University.
Rev. Jesse Jackson and Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty will lead a community discussion between law enforcement and minority groups as part of Oklahoma City’s observance of the Day of Peace.
The Oklahoma City event is sponsored by the United Nations Association of Greater Oklahoma City (UNA-OKC), the Center for Conscience in Action, the Respect Diversity Foundation, the Peace House, Pax Christi USA, Edmond Trinity Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Joy Mennonite Church, Casady Schools Service-Learning Program, and the Campaign for Nonviolence.
Pastor of East Sixth Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1139 NE 6th in Oklahoma City, Rev. Jackson is the President of the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a national organization of African-American Disciples of Christ.
This summer Jackson organized the initiative ‘Organize the Corner-OKC’ to curb gun violence in northeast Oklahoma City.
According to a recent article in the Tulsa World, analyses by the Washington Post and another national publication, of fatal encounters with United States law enforcement in 2015 concluded Oklahoma has the highest amount of such incidents per capita and is a top 5 state in police-involved fatalities this year.
Chief Citty is a lifelong resident of Oklahoma City. He began his career with the Oklahoma City Police Department in 1977. Citty worked throughout the Police Department including Patrol, Narcotics, Homicide, and other divisions. He was the Department’s Public Information Officer during the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building.
The program will be moderated by Rev. Don Heath, pastor of Edmond Trinity Christian Church. The event is free and open to the public.
“Our event is a talk between Bill Citty, Oklahoma City Police Chief, and Jesse Jackson, a Disciples minister, about relations between African Americans and the police in Oklahoma City.” said Heath.
“To illustrate the possibility of bringing the community together in search of solutions, we are aiming for an honest discussion of police / community relations in the OKC metro area — including the controversial subject of police violence. We are calling our program, “Healing the Breach,” Heath added.
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21 and is dedicated to world peace, specifically a reduction in war and violence.
“The level of mistrust of the police by African Americans is high,” Heath continued. “Ferguson could spread to other cities. We are hopeful that we will have a community discussion that will allow Africans Americans and the police to share their perspectives and understand each other better. We hope that we can help to heal the breach.”
It was established in 1981 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and has been celebrated in Oklahoma City since 2008. The theme of this year’s global event is Partnerships for Peace–Dignity for All, which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society working together to strive for peace.
On Saturday, October 24, UNA-OKC will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations during the annual UN Day Luncheon. The event will be held at noon at the Chesapeake Central Boathouse, 732 Riversport Drive, in Oklahoma City.
For more information about this event and the Oklahoma City Chapter of the United Nations Association, visit www.una-okc.org.