In response to national unrest between law enforcement and the citizens it is charged with protecting, retired police officer Ray Clever could no longer keep quiet.
On a large piece of cardboard he wrote, “Conversation with a cop! Change has to start somewhere. How about here, with you and me?” Clever set up on the stage at the Village Green during the farmers’ market and spent hours talking with community members on July 16. King 5 picked up on the story and interviewed Clever a few days later.
“People have been most appreciative of the opportunity to talk of their issues and experiences,” Clever said. “I just get the conversation started.”
When Orcas Islander Donna Laslo saw Clever at the farmers’ market, she was inspired to organize a town hall meeting with a panel of law enforcement representatives to start an open-hearted conversation.
“Conversations with a Cop,” co-sponsored by the Islands’ Sounder, will be held at the Sea View Theatre on Thursday, Aug. 11 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Panel members are San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, filmmaker and prison educator Heather Dew Oaksen and Clever.
“Maybe we can be a model for other communities,” said Laslo. “In light of the increased violence that we are experiencing in our world, we have a unique opportunity in our small community to come together and have conversations about our fears, our hopes and the actions we can take to ensure our safety.”
Laslo says she hopes the group will explore the following questions: How can we all relate? How can we heal old wounds? How can we keep the conversation going long-term? Are you concerned about your personal safety? How do we protect and keep our community safe?
“This will not be a venting session but will facilitate a healthy conversation and open-hearted listening from both sides,” she said.
The panel will take questions from the audience about anything related to law enforcement. Laslo and will moderate.
After the session, audience members are invited to hang out in the Sea View lounge for a deeper discussion of the issues.
“Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?” asked Laslo.