Fort Worth celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Human Relations Commission on Friday at an event that drew protests highlighting the city’s ongoing racial tensions.
At an event in front of the Public Safety Building, Mayor Betsy Price and other city leaders said the commission has done a good job promoting racial equality.
“I truly believe every citizen must be heard and every citizen must be listened to,” Price said. “We all have our own points that we celebrate and that we bring to the table. But we must be listening."
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About two dozen protesters locked arms and wore red tape over their mouths to symbolize their view that the city is trying to silence them.
“We’re here to tell the truth and the truth is that this city is not doing anything as far as improving race relations,” said Rev. Michael Bell, an activist and pastor of Greater Saint Stephen First Church.
The protest was organized by United Fort Worth, an activist group concerned largely with immigration laws.
The group is upset that Fort Worth is only large Texas city not to challenge the new state immigration law known as SB-4.
“I think we have to look down deep and say are we really making progress?” asked United Fort Worth leader Daniel Garcia Rodriguez. “Is it really a day to celebrate? Or do we still have to keep fighting because we have an unjust representative body here in the city of Fort Worth?"
Other protesters called for the firing of city leaders following the controversial arrest of an African-American woman, Jacqueline Craig, by a white police officer last year.
Price has acknowledged the city has ongoing racial issues but said they are being addressed.
The city formed a task force on race relations earlier this year. The panel meets regularly.