HENRICO, Va. -- There’s no question many people around the country have heightened concerns after recent controversial incidents involving police shootings and use of force
Local church leaders say they continue to address concerns from citizens on the local front as well.
That’s why some are making it their mission to educate parents, children and anyone who may come in contact with police.
Several community forums are planned at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Henrico. The first one is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 7.
The goal is to bring police and citizens to the table to have a healthy discussion about understanding each other and what it takes to build trust and stronger relationships.
One area mom says she plans to take her 13-year-old son. It comes on the heels of what she calls a concerning run-in with police.
She says a bike ride to grab a burger for Lashanda Arrington’s son took longer than expected.
She says she was stunned to get a call from a friend who saw her son handcuffed and sitting on a curb. He was reportedly detained by police as they investigated a break-in at a vacant home. Arrington says her son and his friend were mistaken for suspects, and then let go.
“He’s scared,” Arrington explained. “He was traumatized by being handcuffed by police. He didn’t have a positive experience with them.”
The mom says during the stop, her son told his friend not to tell police his name because they hadn’t done anything wrong. That is something Arrington says she wishes her son hadn’t done.
Now, she’s making it her mission to educate her son about how to conduct himself if stopped by police again. She wants other parents to do the same.
“The real talk they should have is that the best thing to do is cooperate at the time,” Arrington said. “If you still feel like you've been wronged then you can go ahead take a name and file a complaint afterward."
St. Paul’s Baptist Church leaders hope to draw in parents like Arrington to Thursday’s discussion on race, justice and the church. Organizer, Antoinette Irving says participants will hear from police, learn the proper protocol for filing complaints, learn what their rights are, and more.
“We need to teach our young people the difference between good and bad and just understanding the different things in society that can help us make decisions in a split second that can affect us the rest of our life," Irving said.
There are two other similar forums later this month at St. Paul’s Baptist Church.
They will each be held at 7 p.m. on May 14 and May 21.
The community discussions are free and open to the public.