Muncie Matters Alliance seeks change for community

<p>The Muncie Matters Alliance came together after several occurrences of police brutality across the nation. The alliance held its first event on Sept. 24, hoping to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the African-American communities in Muncie.&nbsp;<em>Jeannine Lee-Lake // Photo Provided</em></p>

The Muncie Matters Alliance came together after several occurrences of police brutality across the nation. The alliance held its first event on Sept. 24, hoping to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the African-American communities in Muncie. Jeannine Lee-Lake // Photo Provided

Recent police brutality highlighted in the media has caught the attention of some in the Muncie community.

Although incidents between citizens and police have not been considered an issue locally, a group of city leaders said they see the value in bringing solutions for national issues to a community level. In hopes of bringing this dialogue to Muncie's community members, the Muncie Matters Alliance was formed. 

Jeannine Lee-Lake, the publisher of Muncie's "The Good News" newspaper, said the group first rallied together through Facebook after there seemed to be weekly occurrences of police brutality across the nation.

“There has been some real issues. Whether it's driving while black or not feeling respected by the police officers when you do get pulled over," Lee-Lake said. "Not really feeling like you know the local police officers really respected black drivers — that was a concern."

On Sept. 24, the alliance held its first event in hopes of bridging the gap between law enforcement and the African-American communities in Muncie. Residents and their families were able to come together and share a meal with local city officials, including members of the Muncie Police Department. Later, MPD officers took to the streets of Muncie to share opinions and solutions with others in the community.

"I think it’s an issue that’s important because if you look at some of the national incidents that have occurred, and the Black Lives Matter movement, the Blue Lives Matter movement, you’ll see that there’s a lot of contention and controversy and unfortunately there’s a lot of misunderstanding between the African-American community and the law enforcement and public safety community,” Lee-Lake said.

As a mother, Lee-Lake said she sees the value in educating youth on the procedures they should follow when getting pulled over. As a result, the alliance plans to host an event to train people on the best practices when at a traffic stop. Additionally, Lee-Lake hopes to recruit local parents in this initiative to help the community maintain respect for members of law enforcement.

 “We do have plans to do a training for young people. In addition to that, we’re trying to maybe work with churches and other groups to emphasize to ... parents to continue to teach their children to respect those in authority,” Lee-Lake said. "We still need to respect our law enforcement."

Although the alliance began on Facebook, Joseph Anderson, the president of the local NAACP branch, said this is something that has been in the works for a while.

“We were given a charge from our national and our state branch to set up meetings with our local government agencies after the incidents in Dallas and in Minnesota," Anderson said. 

When the members of the Facebook group approached Anderson, the NAACP had already started meeting with local government officials. 

"Well, we had already had meetings set up with the city officials, so we just said, ‘We would be strong in numbers,'" Anderson said. "So to show a unified front, that’s how [the Muncie Matters Alliance] came about."

Anderson also said the alliance and the NAACP are hoping to begin a dialogue and address issues regarding employment and racial profiling, and he personally hopes to see the support to address these issues from a multitude of government officials. 

 “What I hope to achieve is that we all can sit down, agree to disagree and start tackling some of the issues," Anderson said. "Let’s get some of those things implemented, let’s get behind practices. There have some things put in place, but we have to do better."

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