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Community Voices Concerns with Bowling Green City Leaders

Around 100-150 south central Kentucky residents met in Bowling Green's Circus Square Park Sunday evening to voice their concerns about discrimination, policing and city government. Meanwhile, a handful of city leaders listened on a nearby panel.

The discussion and a candlelight vigil that took place afterward are the latest events in Bowling Green to stem from a recent wave of activism that started with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.

Last month, members of the group, Bowling Green Freedom Walkers, presented a list of demands to members of the City Commission.

They included disciplining police officers who don't turn on their body cameras, strengthening accountability for complaints, and a request to work on unsolved murders. That includes the death of the brother of Shake Rag Barbershop owner Chris Page.

"We act like Black people ain't never cared about Black people. And that Black people are not concerned about Black crime. But, that's just certainly not true because if we're not concerned about crime in our own neighborhoods, we wouldn't be here," Page said, later adding, "But the problem is every time that we try to go to the police, and historically, we've never had a good relationship with the police."

Meanwhile, people who have lost loved ones in police interactions also spoke.

Joanna Marr lost her husband in April while he was in Glasgow Police custody. She said the lack of transparency hurts the most.

"These things happen right here in front of us, in our own backyards. And if we can support someone many states away, why can't we have support for ones in our community?" Marr asked.

The event also gave Bowling Green law enforcement the chance to elaborate on department policies. For example, Dep. Chief Penny Bowles fielded a question about the time officers spent on traning.

"A little over 800, 840 hours. At least 200 of those hours are in de-escalation, mental illness awareness, so there is a lot. And then, our officers every year get ongoing training as well," Bowles said.

Dep. Chief Mike Delaney, City Commissioners Dana Beasley Brown and Brian "Slim" Nash, and State Rep. Patti Minter also attended the community event.

Other questions raised included concerns over housing segregation within the city, priorities for renewal projects, and the cost of rent downtown.

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