Tyler events to focus on, seek change to racial injustice

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – As the death George Floyd again focuses the nation’s attention on the issue of racial injustice and the deaths of black men at the hands of police, two events have been scheduled in Tyler to seek ways of finding change and peace.

On Tuesday, City of Tyler and Smith County officials will be hosting a “Prayer Vigil for Justice and Peace” on the downtown square in Tyler.

The event begins at noon and will feature Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton, County Judge Nathaniel Moran and City of Tyler Mayor Martin Heines.

Also on Tuesday, community leaders will hold a “Candle Light Prayer Night” at Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, 2502 North Broadway in Tyler.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be a drive-in service in deference to concerns about COVID-19. Speakers will include Pastor Marcus Hood and Dr. Shirley McKellar, Tyler city councilwoman and community activist. Participants are asked to bring signs and candles but to stay in their vehicles.

On Thursday, Let’s Talk Tyler is sponsoring a virtual town hall with civic leaders, community and religious leaders, and law enforcement officials to talk about how the community can
move forward together in the wake of the national protests over the death of George Floyd at the
hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

“People are angry and frustrated and need reassurance that this won’t happen here,” said Pam Phoenix, a member of Tyler’s Planning and Zoning Commission and one of the event’s organizers.

“It’s time to for us to come together to obtain knowledge and develop workable strategies to address and resolve racial disparities and tensions together.”

Participants will include Tyler Mayor Martin Heines, Tyler Police Chief Jimmy Toler, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman, Tyler NAACP branch President Cedric Granberry, Tyler Together Race Relations Forum President Jeff Williams, and more.

The town hall begins at 7 p.m. and will be livestreamed on Let’s Talk Tyler’s Facebook page.

On Friday, Kilton O. McCracken Sr. is organizing a “Prayer on the Square” event at 6 p.m.

The service will offer participants the chance to pray for racial unity, according to McCracken, director of the Gospel Village at the Mentoring Alliance and pastor of Fredonia Baptist Church in Kilgore.

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