Members of the Fort Worth Black Law Enforcement Officers Association may be confused about why they canceled Saturday’s meeting with local protest leaders. That would explain the conflicting reasons the association gave protest organizers Nysse Nelson and Shana Moore for calling off the forum.
Just hours before the long-scheduled meeting at Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, one association member told Moore that his group would not attend because of the potential presence of the church’s pastor, Kyev Tatum, who is a vocal critic of police shootings of unarmed Black men and women.
“With the history our department and most Black officers have had with him, we don’t feel his involvement will bring a positive outcome,” the text message read.
Hours later, the association cited a different reason for canceling the event. Via a Facebook message, the group said, “Within hours of the event, [a social media post] was brought to our attention. The board of directors concluded that it would be in the best interest of the association to regretfully decline the invitation.”
The message did not elaborate on the nature of the social media post. Moore and Nelson said Fort Worth police department leadership probably heard about the meeting and ordered members of the Black officers association to concoct a reason (or, better yet, two) for canceling. The original plan, Nelson said, was to bring members of the local Black community into discussions with police officers of color with the goal of building trust between civilians and police. A scheduled Q&A session would have allowed teenagers and adults to ask questions like, “How should I behave while being questioned by a police officer?”
Giving conflicting reasons for canceling the meeting “proves officers lie on their reports,” Nelson said. “You have lost our trust. I speak for all of [Fort Worth’s protest movement]. We don’t trust you, and we don’t respect you. We are going forward with our plans for reforms.”
The plans include supporting reform-minded candidates for local offices, fundraising for a mental health crisis center, eliminating Fort Worth school district’s security contract with local police, and redistributing tax dollars toward jail diversion programs, among other goals that align with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Moore said the public snub sends a clear message to a community that she said is already reticent to trust police officers.
“We already do not trust them at all,” she said, adding she would not call the police if experiencing an emergency. The meeting was the police’s “opportunity to build that bridge back.”
Moore and Nelson said protest groups Enough Is Enough, 1LOVE Fort Worth, and others will continue to engage with the community to further the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement here in Fort Worth. When asked for comment, the association referred to its Facebook statement, which concluded: “We are deeply saddened by any convenience this may have caused.”