RICHMOND,Va. -- The Lee Monument was filled with people holding conversations about how Richmond can better serve its Black and Brown communities at the "Conversations at the Monument" Saturday afternoon.
"The goal was to communicate with everybody like not just leaders, but this is a community event. This is for the community," said event organizer Sherri Robinson.
A few city and community leaders were present discussing a number of topics, like the city budget, economics and the Black community and education.
"Basically the primary is the oppression on Black and Brown families. The systemic oppression that continue to happen," Robinson said.
"It was about us coming and listening," said Richmond Council member Stephanie Lynch, who worked with Robinson to coordinate the event.
Richmond City Council member Stephanie Lynch, who worked with Robinson to coordinate the event, said the goal was "coming and listening."
Several other local and state leaders were supposed to be in attendance of the event, including Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith. However, they did not appear due to other flyers stating police were not welcome.
Event organizers denounced those flyers and said the chief was welcome to speak.
The RPD is committed to finding a peaceful way forward through open and inclusive dialogue. We had hoped to start today at the Circle, but after indications that our Constructive Conversation Team would not be welcome, Chief Smith decided to wait for another time.— Richmond Police (@RichmondPolice) August 8, 2020
"A lot of folks that had issues that they wanted to talk about with the upcoming General Assembly special session," Lynch said. "There were folks that wanted to see a number of criminal justice reforms and efforts mirror what we’ve done on at the local level at the state."
That session is scheduled for Aug. 18, where lawmakers will discuss criminal justice and police reform.
"What I see here, we need candidates who aren’t just book smart, but who have morale, serious morale, and concrete obligations and standards," community organizer Yehshai Stringer said.
"I think many of us that were here today are committed to be accessible and available and willing to have that dialog any time at any event," Lynch said.
Organizers for Conversations at the Monument are hoping to continue in bringing this event for more community members to take part.