Ferguson verdict prompts upcoming community forum in Tacoma

When she heard people in Tacoma hurting over developments in Ferguson, Missouri, Tasha Ina Church decided to act.

She organized a community forum to focus on ramifications of the grand jury decision not to indict the Ferguson police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., in Tacoma.

“I heard from a lot of people,” Church said. “People are upset.”

Church, who co-leads a youth organization that works with young women in Tacoma schools, also has been involved with the Race and Pedagogy Conference at the University of Puget Sound.

She’s still lining up speakers for the forum. Panelists so far include:

• Erin Jones, who was honored last year by the White House as a Champion of Change for helping advance educational achievement for African-American students. She is the Tacoma Public Schools director of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program, which helps students prepare for college.

• Troy Christensen, of MDC: Making a Difference in Community, a Tacoma-based organization active in issues such as housing, health care, education and employment for low-income people.

• Keith Blocker, who operates the consulting business Collective Empowerment Leadership Development.

• Jasmyn Jefferson, president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors

• Sara Irish of Stand for Children in Tacoma.

• Nicholas Bradford, founder of the Restorative Justice Center of the Northwest.

• Student vocalist Tiffany Hammond, who will perform a piece related to the discussion topic.

Church said she has invited a representative from the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and from the Race and Pedagogy conference.

The 90-minute forum will include specific questions for each of the panelists as well as general questions from the audience.

“We want to make it a community conversation,” Church said. “Hopefully, we will keep it going.”