LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The relationship between police and their communities is at the forefront of conversations across the nation.
In Southwest Louisiana, recent peaceful protests in Calcasieu Parish have taken place this week following the death of George Floyd. Those protests are now sparking conversations in our own community. NAACP president Alvin Joseph attended the protest in Lake Charles on Sunday and said it was very successful.
“[It was a] very meaningful protest and it included everybody, not just one race," he said. "[Some community members are also] thanking the sheriff’s office for what they did.”
At a march in Lake Charles on Tuesday, Calcasieu parish sheriffs deputies blocked traffic for protesters and provided transportation when the event ended. Sheriff Tony Mancuso said he is committed to working together.
“Our First Amendment right gives us the right to be vocal and we did it the way you’re suppose to do it," he said. "Our police officers, our deputies did it the way you’re suppose to do it.”
Sheriff Mancuso used social media Friday to address events our nation has been through in the last few months.
“We’ve built a relationship with our community of trust and I want the public to be assured that we’re going to go out there and we’re gonna protect our community,” he said on Facebook.
Joseph said he believes local law enforcement is doing what they can to make those relationships better but more can be done.
“I think there’s still work to do that I think is important but I think it’s important on both sides," he said. "You know not just with law enforcement, I think with us as residents, as individuals that it is important that we be open minded also.”
Both Jospeh and Mancuso said they are working to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community they serve.
“I think it’s very important that we continue to meet and discuss the issues," Joseph said. "[Lets] talk about the negatives, talk about the positives; what we’re doing, what we’re not doing and what we can do to better come together and make this a better place to live.”
As we move forward, Sheriff Mancuso said these important conversations must continue.
“Nobody needs to forget, nobody needs to push it aside and not talk about it anymore," he said. "What we need to do is learn [...] from this.”