DALLAS — For about a month now, a group of Dallas residents has been meeting once a week with the stated intention of understanding one another.
The Dallas Community Collaboration Panel is made up of people with different life experiences and different belief systems.
It is “a partnership of individuals in our community representing a broad spectrum of interests and perspectives who have engaged with each other to address the social justice and equity issues being raised in the Dallas community,” a news release states.
Mike Daly chairs the panel, which currently has a dozen participants.
“There were a few people involved in getting it started,” Daly said. “Tyrone Jones and I met for lunch and he told me that he had been talking with the Sheriff (Mark Garton) and the (Dallas Police Chief Tom Simpson). I suggested we try a get a meeting with them and see what we could do.”
Jones, Garton, Simpson, Dallas City Manager Brian Latta, Jackie and David Lawson, “got together and put together the group,” Daly said.
“We began to think of others who would be a good representation of the community as we looked at the issues of racism and discrimination,” Daly said.
Crystal Hayter, Jayden Jones, Micky Garus and Beto Reyes and Darren Anderson also are members of the group.
Jones, who is Black, said he and wife contacted Garton and Simpson after George Floyd was killed while in custody of Minneapolis police and the resulting protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
He said the established a good relationship.
“At the first rally (in Dallas), there were a bunch of young girls there and my wife asked me stop by and check in them to make sure everything was OK,” Jones said.
While he was there, armed people started showing up at the businesses near the courthouse.
Jones decided to walk over and introduce himself.
“At first, I was kind of scared, because I had a bunch of armed men and here I am a big Black guy walking across the street,” Jones said. “I felt a little bit more comfortable because I had the sheriff and the police chief with me. But I also felt I had a responsibility to make sure that the kids that were protesting on my behalf were safe.”
Jones thinks the men were shocked at first,but were very welcoming and talked about “why they had brought all their guns, what was going on and about cars.”
“Two of the guys ended up working with me on fixing cars,” Jones said.
That’s where Jones met, Jackie and David Lawson.
“I think that’s when it first started my relationships with the Lawsons,” Jones said.
Later, David Lawson reached out to him, he said.
“I thought it was very interesting that he took the time because we are on two totally different political scales,” Jones said.
Discussions are not always easy and sometimes people with differing views don’t understand the points others are trying to make.
Jones said when he brings up that Black people are being killed at alarming rate, people sometimes respond with a reference to “Black-on-Black crime.”
“It’s hard to explain to people ... because one Black man hurts another Black person doesn’t mean it’s OK for the police to kill me or my family,” he said. “What happened here a few Saturdays ago, it was truly white-on-white crime. I don’t think that anybody would argue at this point, that it’s fair to be profiled because of that.”
Daly said he thinks the meetings are going well.
“We have had our disagreements and differences but through getting to know each other, talking them out and working on a common ground, we have done some really good things,” Daly said. “For instance, setting up the Dallas OR Topics bulletin board, the Facebook page and group, where we have received questions from the community. And of course the videos. What I have learned is that everyone basically wants the same thing in their community: safety, respect and opportunity to live happy.”
The group’s Facebook page is Dallas, OR Topics.