The Lakeland City Commission will host a community forum on race relations on Monday, June 29, at the RP Funding Center Youkey Theater from 6 pm – 8 pm. 

In a recent press release, the City of Lakeland has announced its plans for the community forum on race relations, facilitated by the Lakeland City Commission.

The forum will be set up to allow the community to share their views on issues of race and equality.

Commissioner Phillip Walker will open the event sharing his views and experiences before handing the mic to Mayor Bill Mutz who will be the moderator for the evening. Mayor Mutz said, “We want the forum to be a time of listening, and it is important for the community to know that we will not have solutions on the night of the event. However, solutions will come after we hear from the community.” He added, “Empathy and understanding are the first steps in creating solutions and the first steps toward improving relationships.”

City Manager Tony Delgado elaborated, “The event is a critical starting point for the community to come together and learn from one another. The best solutions come from working in unity, so we want to hear from people in the community in a listening and learning session. We are reaching out to the representative groups on the issue asking them to join us for the event.”  He added, “We may not be directly experiencing some of the same issues as those communities that we see in the news, but it is important that we do the very best we can to promote equality and fair treatment no matter the color of our skin.”

The City Commission will hear from four stakeholder groups that include:

  1. Black Lives Matter Polk – Jarvis Washington
  2. NAACP Lakeland Branch – Jackie Vickers
  3. BRIDGE Local – Chrissanne Long
  4. Parker Street Ministries – Tim Mitchell

After the four stakeholder groups give an overview, the City Commission will then ask to hear from the public. Each person addressing the mic will get three minutes to share their views with the Lakeland City Commission. Those wishing to address the Commission will sign up and be given a number. Mayor Mutz will call on the speakers by number and direct the audience member to one of the four strategically placed microphone positions. Each microphone location will have a queue with social distancing marks on the floor as part of the safety protocols in place for the event.

Those attending the event in person are encouraged to park in the Green Lot at the RP Funding Center and enter through Entrance One. Coronavirus safety protocols will be in place, including social distancing, and the use of a face covering is mandatory.

All visitors will be screened upon entry to the RP Funding Center. Visitors must have a temperature below 100.4 degrees and they must not have traveled to a known out-of-state COVID-19 hotspot. Visitors will be asked if they have experienced a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or problems breathing, chills, muscle pain, and/or loss of taste or smell within the last 12 hours. The nation is still grappling with the impact of a pandemic, and Florida recently has experienced a spike in positive COVID-19 cases with a steady rise since Memorial Day.