LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin businessman James Self believes the images of protestors clashing with police show the country still needs to heal.
"We have an attitude that everything is alright, or it will be alright, but it is not alright," Self said.
When Self heard of a community discussion set up by Lufkin City Councilmen Robert Shankle, he only had one thought.
"Good," Self said. "It is about time."
Self runs a computer training center in North Lufkin. He has seen people from all walks of life and believes it is time for race to leave the picture.
"We do not need to see race," Self said. "We need to get past that."
Self is one of the many community members backing Shankle's event.
"Last week Robert and I went to College Station to see Jorvoskie Lane's football camp," Self said. "It was great. The best part was lunch time. They had sheriff's deputies there with the children. One child looked up at the deputy and said, 'You are always smiling. When your buddy pulled over my dad he did not look happy. The deputy then looked at him and said,'We need to smile more.'"
Shankle said he was inspired to do something that could bring results.
"We need to sit down and talk and dialogue and see where each side is coming from," Shankle said.
Shankle is part of a group of citizens that have participated in police training. He is also a lifetime resident in the North Lufkin community.
"I know what it is like for the officers out there, and you don't know what is in the car you pull over," Shankle said. "I have also been pulled over and am not sure why I was pulled over. We need to work together. A police officer is going to say, 'Well, I'm afraid to walk up to a vehicle with dark-tinted windows. I don't know what is inside the car.' Then the citizen might say, 'I'm scared he might come up with his hand on his gun.'"
Shankle is also getting support from the Impact Lufkin group.
"The simple fact is it is a snowball effect, and as it continues to snowball, we stay on target for what we want to do," Emily Gay said. "We have two groups that are upset and sometimes upset at each other. We need to come together and solve this, so it doesn't happen here."
Lufkin Police are also on board.
"It's critical that we have an opportunity to be open to the community and allow them to feel comfortable to ask questions, questions otherwise they would not feel comfortable asking about," said Lufkin Police Chief Gerald Williamson. "I am ready to answer questions. I cannot speak on other departments, but I know what Lufkin is doing and can speak to us."
Self hopes the talks between the two sides will work.
"We'll have the kind of dialogue where they can interact without any retribution," Self said.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lufkin Zoo on July 30. There will be breakfast and snacks available.