Fort Worth

Fort Worth Appoints Task Force on Race and Culture

Citizens' panel to address racial tensions following controversial police arrest

Fort Worth city leaders have named four citizens to head a new task force to address simmering racial tensions that have festered since a controversial police arrest in December.

The leaders of the group, called the Task Force on Race and Culture, were appointed unanimously by council members at a specially-called meeting Tuesday.

The four will appoint 21 other people to serve with them to hold community meetings and ultimately come up with a plan for council members.

"If you look through the lens of income, education and race, disparities do exist in Fort Worth,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “And it's true in every city in the country.”

City council member Gyna Bivens, who is African-American, welcomed the task force but said it is long overdue.

"It's really not a kumbaya moment,” she said. “What I'm looking at is what's going to be the outcome. But more importantly, I want us to make sure we have a review of lessons learned."

The creation of the task force came after months of protests following the arrest of Jacqueline Craig, an African-American mother, by a white police officer.

Former Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders, one of the task force leaders, said the group will get to work immediately.

"We need a community that's going into this with an open mind and not with the idea that it's going to be done in the old 'Fort Worth Way' where we sweep things under the rug or put a lid on a boiling pot," Sanders said. "This is looking for solutions."

Sanders acknowledged the work will be difficult.

"Of course it's easier said than done," he said. "But if we do it right, it could be one of the most important things to happen in Fort Worth in the last 50 years."

Other leaders of the panel are: Lillie Biggins, chief executive officer of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital; Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Congregation Ahavath Sholom; and Rosa Navejar, former president of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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