BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
The Daytona Beach branch of the NAACP is hosting a community forum on Thursday, Feb. 25, which will include discussion on local crime prevention and public safety.
The forum will begin at 6 p.m. at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, 580 George Engram Blvd.
Cynthia Slater, president of the local NAACP, has invited Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood to be one of the speakers at the event. She’s also hoping that Dr. Edison Jackson, president of Bethune-Cookman University, will attend.
In speaking about the Feb. 13 shooting that claimed the life of B-CU student Don’Kevious Johnson and other recent shootings in Daytona Beach, Slater said, “I believe that we are a community in crisis at this point and leaders and the community as a whole have to deal with and come to the realization that gun violence is plaguing the Black community.’’
“A violent and criminal element has taken over this community, and in all of my life as a resident of Daytona Beach, I have never seen the number of shootings and homicides that involves African-Americans like what has happened within the last few years,” she told the Daytona Times this week.
‘A matter of Black lives’
Slater continued, “We say ‘Black Lives Matter,” but I say, ‘It’s a matter of Black lives.’ It’s a matter of Black lives when there is no respect for life, so much so that young people don’t care about the consequences of their actions.
“It’s a matter of Black lives when a simple argument or disagreement turns into gun violence and the murder of innocent people; it’s a matter of Black lives when guns get into the hands of unstable and/or drug induced people. We are faced with a sense of urgency, and we must end the violence that is devastating our community.’’
On New Year’s Eve, Kevin Stanley of Deltona, 21, and Abel Morel of Winter Park, 23, were killed in a shooting at the Biarritz Club on Pearl Street. Martell Smith, 23, was injured.
Four people were injured at that same nightclub in September 2015 after a man opened fire after a fight in the parking lot.
“The Black community of Daytona Beach and Bethune-Cookman University has a rich history, and we’re better than what’s happened in our city lately, but we have to come to the realization that there are problems within our individual societies and nothing will get better until we fix it,” Slater added.
The Feb. 25 forum hosted by the NAACP also is to address civic engagement, employment opportunities, education and equal protection.