Nephew of Martin Luther King Jr. Visits Fort Worth

Fort Worth activists welcome out of town support

A nephew of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is in Fort Worth for a visit that coincides with the anniversary of his uncle's trip to the city 60 years ago.

Last Saturday's fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in her own home by a Fort Worth police officer altered the focus for the visit by Dr. Isaac Newton Farris from Atlanta.

"Let's remain calm, because taking violence into one's own hands doesn't solve anything," Farris said.

He urged Fort Worth residents to be more involved in politics to achieve change. He called the turnout of less than 10% of the population in the last Fort Worth Mayoral election a travesty.

"Get involved in that process. Make your presence felt," Farris said.

The shooting of Jefferson was the sixth fatal Fort Worth police shooting in recent months.

Changes in officer hiring standards, training, policy and oversight are among the things activists are seeking to avoid more deaths.

"If you're involved in the political process you can impact on who's hired as a policeman," Farris said.

Pastor Kyev Tatum, a Fort Worth activist, welcomed the visit from Farris.

"We're hoping that Fort Worth becomes a shining light, an example, of when you have this crisis, you can turn them into opportunities," Tatum said.

He said Fort Worth activists want a federal court ordered consent decree to require police reform.

The visit from Farris coincided with a Fort Worth conference on consent decrees.

"That's why I was so thankful. Not only was Dr. Farris in town, they were holding the national consent decree conference downtown," Tatum said. "What we need is accountability. We cannot depend on the City of Fort Worth to police itself."

Fort Worth activists are trying to buy a house on Stewart Street in Fort Worth where King stayed during his visit. It was a time when African-Americans had trouble finding hotels that would accept them.

"We were hoping to be able to have a commemorative time," said Tatum.

Jefferson's death dominated conversations instead.

"The ultimate goal is to have a community in harmony," Tatum said. "With him being here, it just gives us another unique opportunity to make sure that our voice is not snuffed out."

Farris and other activists plan to attend the wake Friday night and funeral service Saturday for Jefferson at the Potter's House Church in Dallas.

Reverend Al Sharpton from New York is expected as a speaker at the funeral.

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