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Wittenberg Hosts Town Hall Forum On Race, Rights And Law Enforcement

Guest speakers at the event included Stephen Moody, Springfield Police Chief; Anthony Pettiford, Yellow Springs Police Chief; Warren Copeland, Springfield Mayor; Lori Askeland, Yellow Springs Village Council; Jim Hutchins, Wittenberg Police Chief; Denise
Wayne Baker
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Law enforcement and public officials attended a town hall forum Monday night at Wittenberg University.  The forum was sponsored by Wittenberg Associate Professor, Julius Bailey's hip hop class, and about 200 students attending used twitter to comment about  the panel discussion, which centered around race, rights and officer involved shootings.

Front and center in Monday night’s forum—the recent deaths of two black men; 18-year-old Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo., and 22-year-old John Crawford, III at a Beavercreek Walmart. Both men were shot by white police officers.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland told the crowd that a lack of communication by local elected officials in Ferguson allowed the situation there to escalate.

"I found it amazing that the elected officials in Ferguson were nowhere to be seen," Copeland said. "I don't think the local officials there have done their job."

When Clark County Sheriff, Gene Kelly said during the forum that “the scales of justice are blind,” Wittenberg students reacted using Twitter. Professor Bailey felt they might have a different take than Sheriff Kelly.

"People, especially in my class, but people across the country, are smart enough to know that that's not quite an accurate statement," Bailey said.

Attorneys for the Crawford family, Michael Wright and Richard Shulte, urged the crowd of mostly Wittenberg students to support the release of surveillance video from Walmart the night that John Crawford died.

But, there was common ground to be found Monday night as law enforcement officials, community organizations, and students held a peace march after the event to show unity.

To see the entire twitter discussion of the event, search #Witt Hip Hop.