UW-Green Bay to host panel discussion on race relations, policing

A panel discussion on “Race Relations and the Local Police” is scheduled to take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Hosted by the University’s American Intercultural Center, the event will take place in the Phoenix Room on the main level of the University Union on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists will include Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, UW-Green Bay Public Safety Director Tom Kujawa, Public Safety Training Coordinator Michael Molnar of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, and Pastors Paul Davis of Kingdom Agenda Church and L.C. Green of Divine Temple Church, both of Green Bay.

The moderator will be Justin Mallett, director of diversity for UW-Green Bay. Mallett, a native of Kosciusko, Miss., who holds a doctorate in educational leadership, joined the staff last July. In the wake of highly publicized police shootings involving African Americans in Ferguson, Mo., and Madison, he says he has been pleased to learn that Green Bay police and members of the local community already have experience in maintaining an ongoing dialog.

“The event (on the 14th) isn’t intended to criticize the police or their efforts,” Mallett says. “It’s to ask questions and help more people understand what our community is doing to continue to make sure these events don’t happen in Green Bay. I expect that students will share their perceptions of the local police and public safety. Some of their questions could be direct and even pointed, but it’s my view that we won’t be able to move forward with our overall mission if people just want to criticize and blame.”

Earlier in the day, from 11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday,  Molnar, of NWTC, will set up a “shoot/don’t shoot” training simulator in the University Union’s 1965 Room.  This will give participants an opportunity to gain a better appreciation of a law enforcement officer’s perspective on potential deadly force situations.  Up to two individuals can sign up to participate in each 15-minute block in the training simulator.  Participants will be provided a short orientation prior to the simulated exercise and time to debrief afterwards.  A sign-up sheet to participate in the simulated exercise is available at the American Intercultural Center, University Union Room 150.

Nationally, some activists have urged that April 14 be a day of walkouts and protests over police shootings. Mallett says he hopes the event at UW-Green Bay gives local college and high school students an opportunity to share their perceptions of these national incidents, to learn from fellow community members about the history of race relations locally, and to be pro-active in contributing to positive police-community relations.

Anyone with questions about the event may contact Mallett at MallettJ@uwgb.edu or (920) 465-2720.


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