Tupelo leaders continue dialogue on race relations following death of George Floyd in Minneapolis


TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Tupelo leaders continued to keep a dialogue open on topics such as race relations between the police and the community.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton called a joint meeting of the City’s Police Advisory Board and the Community Outreach Task Force for Monday Morning after protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent in larger cities across the country.

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“You need to come forward and say what happened is wrong and we’re not going to tolerate it in Tupelo,” said Pastor Chris Traylor, who is president of the Lee County Chapter of the NAACP.

He wanted elected leaders and others in key positions to publicly denounce the death of George Floyd, saying it would go a long way to calm the outrage seen across the country.

Late last week, Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre sent a letter to the mayor and to council members condemning the behavior of the Minneapolis officers in the death of George Floyd.

He said tactics used by those officers were not taught by Tupelo Police at the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center.

“We hold ourselves to a higher standard, so we’re going to make sure our officers do not even practice anything near what we saw on the video, it is appalling to all of our officers to see another officer conduct himself that way,” Chief Aguirre said.

Officers also undergo ongoing training in race relations, de-escalation of a situation, and other exercises.

Shelton believed it was important for everyone to have their voices heard and to trust city leaders and officers on the street.

“Tupelo is the first city in the state to have a police advisory board, one of the first cities in the state to have body cams for all officers,” Mayor Shelton said.

Doctor Richard Price is pastor of North Green Street Church of Christ and chairman of the mayor’s community outreach task force.

He said these critical times will impact future generations.

“We need to ask ourselves, what are we expecting out of the next generations and what do we expect the fabric of our city, and our country and world to look like, I’m hoping it will be the same type, of dealing with hard issues, because they’re there and we can’t ignore them, but also willingness to see each other and begin to get to know each other in different ways,” Dr. Price said.

This was the first joint meeting of the two groups, but the Police Advisory Board and Mayor’s Community Outreach Task Force meet every month.