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story.lead_photo.caption Caree Banton, University of Arkansas assistant professor of African American studies and history, speaks Monday during the forum “Black Lives Matter, The Truth Behind The Movement” organized by Compassion Fayetteville. St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville hosted the event. - Photo by J.T. Wampler

FAYETTEVILLE -- There is no "only" in the phrase "Black Lives Matter," and support of the movement does not imply there is, a diverse group of 500 were told Monday night.

"What it means is that black lives matter also," said Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen of Little Rock, speaking to a crowd of about 500 at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville. "If all lives matter, black lives matter. I learned that in logic at the University of Arkansas. Black lives matter because all lives matter."

Griffen was one of a panel of speakers brought to Monday night's event by the Black History Team of Compassion Fayetteville, a volunteer group. Other panelists were Caree Banton, University of Arkansas assistant professor of African American studies and history, and Raven Cook, a local Black History educator. The event began at 6:30 p.m. and lasted more than two hours.

Correction

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” does not imply that only black lives matter, speakers at a forum in Fayetteville said Monday night. The word “not” was omitted in a story Tuesday because of a grammatical error. The error has been corrected.

Fayetteville has been an open and inclusive community, but the Compassion group wanted to reinforce that, hold up the city as an example and hopefully be a good influence, said D'Andre Jones, spokesman for the Compassion group.

Black Lives Matter started as a movement after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Griffen said. Like 9/11 or other events for the rest of the population, black Americans "remember where they were and what they were doing when that acquittal happened" in 2012, he said.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan and police Chief Greg Tabor attended the meeting and stayed throughout. During it, Griffen said police as an institution in the United States has a history of being an agency of maintaining white supremacy, and the history of that cannot be wished away or ignored. Not only is there a history of injustice by police, but crimes against blacks by whites were never prosecuted vigorously, leading to an atmosphere of distrust, he and other panelists said.

Fayetteville police have a good history of even-handed justice, Tabor said after the meeting, but tensions from other parts of the country are often brought here. "I know police whose sons say they're afraid when they're stopped by police, and that just floors me," Tabor said. "Afraid to be stopped by police in Fayetteville? I couldn't believe it. But if they come here from places where the relations aren't as good, they're nervous when they're stopped. Then the officer who stopped them picks up on that, senses the nervousness and wonders 'Why are they nervous? What are they up to?' It's a cycle."

Cook told the audience her great-grandmother lost an eye to a severe beating during a robbery, when whites took her pay from a job as a domestic worker. Banton told the group changes that appear to be progress are discrimination taking new, more socially acceptable forms. For instance, blacks were denied the vote by slavery, then overt intimidation, then literacy tests and poll taxes, and now by large-scale incarceration and felony convictions.

"History won't let us go," Banton said. "We're pinned to it."

NW News on 08/23/2016

Print Headline: Black Lives Matter never excluded others, panelists say

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  • Murphy01
    August 23, 2016 at 8:43 a.m.

    Where is Griffins concern for LR's 21st homicide? What about the murder in West Mogadishu, I mean Memphis? Yeah BLM.

  • Dontsufferfools
    August 23, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

    I see Murphy really learned something from that panel discussion. I'd tell him to open his mind, but the lock is clearly rusted shut. Horses with blinders have a wider perspective.

  • Packman
    August 23, 2016 at 10:43 a.m.

    This panel discussion has me confused. I thought BLM was designed to shine a spotlight on the continuing struggles within the black community and identify solutions to things like poverty, low educational attainment, and crime that disproportionately affects blacks as both victim and perp. But according to this panel, BLM exists to put white folks in jail for certain crimes but not black folks because America has a history of racial discrimination against blacks.
    .
    I did some research and found game wardens in Arkansas to be flat-out racists. Last year 100% of the people receiving citations for duck hunting violations were white males. That's right, 100%. Not a single person of color was cited for a waterfowl violation by game wardens in 2015. Game wardens are racist thugs. Or.......
    .
    Could it be white people commit duck hunting violations in numbers disproportionate to black folks thereby debunking the claim that game wardens are racists? Could it be blacks commit violations of criminal law (such as murder and armed robbery) in numbers disproportionate to white folks?
    .
    It's not helped the BLM movement that they chose as their poster children a guy that viciously attacked an armed law-abiding citizen and another guy that was a known bully that got himself shot for attacking a cop. Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown died because someone was justified in using deadly force against their pre-meditated physical attacks. Is it too late for BLM to change the face(s) of the movement?

  • NoUserName
    August 23, 2016 at 11:20 a.m.

    Griffen is a sitting judge. How he can spew the crap he does and still keep his robe is beyond me. I think any white person in his court should ask for his recusal.

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