LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Greater Lafayette protesters are working toward building trust with city leaders. On Tuesday, after a peaceful march from the Tippecanoe County Courthouse to the Lafayette Municipal Building, four protest organizers held a private meeting with Mayor Tony Roswarski. Their goal is to create a conversation with city leaders on how the community can move forward in this nationwide fight for racial equality.
"We have to unite, black, white, blue, yellow, whatever color we have to unite as one human race," said protester Joseph Barradas.
Unity is what protestors are encouraging as they met with Mayor Tony Roswarski.
"We're taking this opportunity to talk to our public officials about what it looks like to repair trust in the community," said protest organizer Vanessa Pacheco.
The first scheduled protest to take place in Greater Lafayette happened on Sunday, May 31. Since then protesters have still continued to gather. Pacheco said many protesters don't feel like their needs are being met.
"People are out in the streets because they're not seeing their needs met," said Pacheco. "We've talked to people who have marched alongside us and a lot of their concerns are beyond police interaction, they extend to conversations around poverty, food security, education, homelessness and I think we need to talk about how those issues are really connected."
Pacheco joins three other protesters who will address these concerns with Mayor Roswarski. She said she hopes this conversation helps bridge the gap between city leaders and minority communities.
"Marginalized folks are at the heart of these conversations," said Pacheco. "These conversations are not going to be easy. They're sometimes going to be uncomfortable. But we're really ready for that and we're really excited to reflect on the needs of the people in this community."
The city released a statement addressing its continued commitment to "community-centered policing." City leader David Huhnke said this means always keeping the community at the forefront. Lafayette Police Department has listed its commitment to the community in this document here. The city has also addressed its commitment to the community in a press release stating:
“In cities across America, mayors are in a unique position to transform how police departments interact with their communities,” states Mayor Tony Roswarski. “As the Mayor of Lafayette, I will continue our vision of public safety based on trust, accountability, respect, and the sanctity of all lives. I am proud to say that the Lafayette Police Department has been a forerunner in Community Policing and that the entire jurisdiction has benefitted from their progressive, thoughtful approach to providing quality public safety services and upholding national and
international policing standards.”
"I wanted to participate because I want equality and justice for all not just for certain people that are in power," said Barradas.
"Our goal is to have him hear us, understand our cries and our concerns and he's in the power to make a change and that's what we expect for him to put that into motion," said protester Twila Canion.
Tuesday's protest included members of 'The Collective,' and members of 'Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Greater Lafayette,' who worked as safety marshals to protect protesters as they traveled from the courthouse to the municipal building.
You can find the full City of Lafayette press release here.