A light crowd gathered to endure the summer heat for what some would say was a spiritual gathering last Saturday at Banning’s Roosevelt Williams Park.
The town hall meeting was intended to be a follow-up to a community forum held last June in which community leaders gathered to address Black Lives Matter and police brutality.
Leaders of faith-based organizations were invited to lead discussions.
“People understood that pastors and speakers come from many different life experiences, and that shapes where they come from and how they interact today,” said former Banning mayor Debbie Franklin, who was among the attendees. “I hope our guests realize that there are things they can do — large or small — to help keep the events of today in a positive attitude, and to help others. We need to be informed, but not overwhelmed, by the news on TV, and people should feel free to voice questions and opinions to make a change, and avoid listening to rumors,” Franklin said.
Banning City Councilwoman Colleen Wallace insisted that the event “was intended to unite, and not have people be divided” in a caustic political environment.
Wallace said that the town hall meeting “was very spiritual. We want the community to have a sense of healing.”
Rev. Bill Dunn, vicar of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont, joined the program at Wallace’s invitation.
“Building bridges to heal our wounds, resolve our differences, and come together is hard work that has to be done intentionally,” Dunn said in a statement. “Although our church building is in Beaumont, like many church congregations in the Pass, St. Stephen’s has as many worshippers who live in Banning as we do in Beaumont. I attended because I care about our community, and wanted to hear thoughts from people of color in the aftermath of George Floyd’s horrific death, and how everyone is coping with the ongoing pandemic. I was pleased that those present were willing to engage City Manager (Doug) Schulze, and Mayor Pro Tem Wallace on other city issues,” and “while the heat understandably kept some folks away, I believe our time together was well-spent.”
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