Fort Worth Activists Calling for More Community Outreach in Fallout from Controversial Arrests

There are new questions about where the Fort Worth community goes from here, in the fallout of the controversial arrests of a mother and her two teenage daughters.

"It's come to a boiling point to where everybody's asking questions. What now?" said community activist Lonnie Hall.

Video of the incident sparked outrage and the officer involved began a 10-day suspension Tuesday.

Union leaders say that punishment is too long, while many in the community think it's not nearly enough.

In the middle of that divide, NBC 5 spent the day in one neighborhood where some people feel their voices are not being heard.

From their far west side Fort Worth neighborhood, you can see the downtown skyline, but for many people there, city hall and police headquarters feel far away.

Community activists in the area are working to break down that divide and asking for more presence to rebuild trust.

When a community is shaken, it doesn't end after the news conferences.

"It hurts. It makes you angry. You want answers," said neighbor Lisa Grennan.

That hurt is still there, when the investigation wraps up and punishment is doled out.

"We need more community involvement," said Adbul Chappell, one activist standing in the gap.

"We put out a lot of fires in the neighborhoods,” said Chappell. “A lot of people don't get shot. A lot of people don't get robbed. A lot of stuff doesn't go on because we're out here every day."

For Chappell, it comes from a sense of obligation. He helped start Fort Worth's gangs in the late 80s and spent many years in prison.

"It's an obligatory thing because we know we participated in a lot of destruction," said Chappell.

He also helped broker a truce with other gang leaders, like former rival Lonnie Hall.

"You know, I love my brother,” Hall said while hugging Chappell, added: “You know at one point in time, me and this dude were shooting at each other, trying to kill each other."

On Tuesday, the men took NBC 5 along, to hear about the disconnect many neighbors feel from the rest of the city.

"I feel a divide,” Grennan said. “I can remember growing up when there was a wall that separated my community from the white community."

Tension that only increased in the most recent case.

"We don't see justice and it's getting to the point where it's almost as if the people have become apathetic completely to the system because we don't feel like anybody's going to listen to us," said Chappell.

They want more police and city leaders visible in their community.

"Sit more, talk to you more and walk in the community and just see how everybody feel," said neighbor Marsha Carter.

“Have a day where the people in the community and police come out and eat with each other but leave your uniforms at the house," Chappell added. "Bring your kids out into the communities that you’re patrolling with their kids and watch how those kids play with each other without any problems.”

Small steps to close a big gap.

Chief Joel Fitzgerald was the one to decide on the officer’s 10-day suspension and he said Monday he considers it a serious one.

An internal investigation found the officer used excessive force, was disrespectful and failed to thoroughly investigate a crime. The case now goes to a grand jury to decide on charges for anyone involved.

Fitzgerald is also promising more efforts to reach out to the community.

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