With the recent murders of unarmed Black people prevalent in society’s consciousness, conversations surrounding policing in individual communities and across America have been at the forefront.

Columbia activists and organizers are no different, as there have been multiple protests and demonstrations since the murder of George Floyd.

CoMo Coalition for Justice is going a step further by hosting a virtual event titled “Redefining Safety: A Community Town Hall.” The coalition is composed of the Worley Street Roundtable; Faith Voices of Columbia; CoMo for Progress; Race Matters, Friends; Columbia Supreme; and The WE Project.

The town hall will focus on how discipline and safety in schools can be reimagined. The conversation is also set to explore options beyond school resource officers in schools. City Manager John Glascock said in late June that he will recommend the city shift its four school resource officers to the Police Department’s Community Outreach Unit as part of planned budget cuts.

“We would like to reimagine what safety can look like in schools,” WE Project founder Valérie Berta-Torales said. “So instead of SROs, maybe it could look like more counselors in schools, more social workers, more funding for schools so that they are able to nurture children.”

At the town hall, parents will have the opportunity to give testimonials. The Columbia School Board will be represented.

“This is just the first step in an ongoing conversation and change,” Berta-Torales said.

The town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday. Those interested can register at bit.ly/2AHYm2y, and they will receive a link to the Zoom session.

  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020. Studying arts and culture journalism. Contact me at roshaehemmings@mail.missouri.edu.

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