A Fort Myers mother is trying to help rebuild trust between the community and the police who serve them.
Shenika James has seen the protests, the posters; knows the names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright and others killed by police.
She doesn’t want her kids, her 19-year-old son, to be next.
“My son is at the age to drive now and I’ve got a fear for him driving,” she said.
“He’s a good boy but he could easily be profiled, and just seeing that on the news is heartbreaking.”
James feels the pain of those parents who have lost their kids after encounters with police, the very people who have sworn to protect them.
“I want my son to do whatever he needs to do, to be able so I can hug him and I’m not in the streets fighting and crying at the same time.”
She constantly gives her son the talk: What to do and how to act if a police officer or sheriff’s deputy ever pulls him over.
“Keep your hands visible at all times, and you get permission. ‘Can I go into my wallet? Can I reach into the glove compartment to retrieve this?’ So we tell him those things and just pretty much cooperate.”
Now, James is taking action to protect all sons and daughters. She organized a forum called “Bridging the Gap” at the STARS Complex. Police, parents of teenagers, and Councilman Johnny Streets will come together to talk about personal rights and the proper protocols officers and deputies should follow.
“My whole thing is these babies need to arrive home safe,” James said.
“We want to be able for them to trust us and us to be able to trust them.”
Building trust and respect by working together, because who wants to see the picture of another son on a poster at a protest?
The “Bridging the Gap” forum is Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at the STARS Complex, 2980 Edison Ave.
Streets will give a presentation and the community can ask police officers questions. Anyone who wants to attend is welcome.