The Beloit Brown Community Liaison is hosting a community gun violence townhall partnering with the Beloit Police Department at 6:30 pm on Monday, August 23 in the community room of the Beloit Public Library. It will also be streamed live via Zoom.
The Liaison is dedicated to bridging the gap of communication for their Brown community (African American, Mexican, Hispanic, Latinx, Middle Eastern) and the Beloit Police Department. Beloit native Lexi Peyton started this group in honor of her cousin, Chelsey Payton, who was killed October 3, 2020.
“I started this group back in June,” Peyton said. “It was started because my cousin, Chelsey Payton was killed October 2020. And she was at a house party, and there were two hundred plus people there. And here we are 10 months later. Nobody has come forward to say who did it or who was shooting. There’s been different names dropped, but they haven’t found the person, at all, as of yet. And when she was killed, we also found out there were some other murders in the community, where it was identical. The police department was giving us identical information. We didn’t have any leads and they weren’t keeping in touch with the families. We were getting pretty hopeless because we were like, ‘we’re not getting anywhere.’”
The Beloit Brown Community Liaison started with Peyton writing letters and trying to get in contact with the police department for her family. She was initially trying to get answers about the frequent occurrence of murders in her family. The Liaison was established for the safety of the Beloit community and for the betterment of their local police community. They fight for people of color and to get answers for the loss of their loved ones.
Community organizing and planning safe events during this time has been very challenging. The Liaison is doing all they can to keep their community safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
One of the most pressing matters that Peyton spoke frequently about were the negative encounters she’d had with staff and officers of the Beloit Police Department. In her efforts to get more information about her cousin’s murder and plan the upcoming community conversation, she and her family were ignored and the responses they did receive back were rude and passive aggressive.
“I grew up in the Beloit community and I know so many of the community leaders and so many of the community activists, I sent it to a bunch of people,” said Peyton. “And I’m like, ‘before I say something, am I overreacting?’ It wasn’t just like I just sent it to Black people, or I just sent it to white people, I sent it to a mix. And they all wrote back, and they were like, ‘That was a straight clap back and he didn’t have to go like that.’ We need to do some training on how to talk to the community. These people are not new, these are not new detectives, these are not new officers. These are people who have been here for some time now. And that’s the kind of response that we get. And it was we were not only stuck on the tone of the email but the fact that he said we didn’t feel the need to respond.”
Peyton said Beloit Police Chief Andre Sayles committed to speak about how the police department is working to tackle the increase in gun violence in Beloit. Despite a lack of communication from the department recently, Peyton and the organization are hoping Sayles will join the community conversation as he initially agreed to.
This space is also intended to allow community members to ask questions that they may have.
“I’m hoping that we can have those lines of communication open,” said Peyton. “I hope that the community sees that being an officer is not just as cut and dry as we think. We understand, I understand anyway, and try to be empathetic when talking about what the police do. I get it. They have a very tough job. I get that totally. I’m hoping that the community can understand a little bit better the job that the police department does. On the flip side, I’m hoping that the police department realizes that these murders are not being handled the way that they need to be.”
The direct link to the virtual option of the town hall is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81849819675?pwd=OWc5cCtxb0FlRUk5Q3RHaDNNcisydz09#success. For more information about the Beloit Brown Community Liaison, visit https://www.facebook.com/bbcl53511/.