In the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict—in which a neighborhood patrol volunteer was acquitted after shooting and killing an unarmed 17-year-old black youth—the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Santa Barbara is holding a public forum on Tuesday night at the Louise Lowry Davis Center from 7-9 p.m. Dignitaries have been invited, but the event is arranged so that members of the public will have the opportunity to speak first.
“One of the things that I see happen across the country is, when there is a problem, somehow the establishment seems to go out into the community and find what they call so-called leaders,” said Isaac Garrett, president of the Committee, which seeks to foster the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message. “Those leaders don’t necessarily speak for the average Joe.”
The topic will be race relations in the community. With an impending gang injunction, concerns about racial profiling in Santa Barbara are not abstract. “What we anticipate and what we would like to do is allow members of the community to express some of the experiences they have had regarding race relations,” Garrett said. “We would at least like to start a conversation to let people know that there still are ill feelings … and we need to move forward to prevent it from getting to a boiling point [like in the Trayvon Martin situation],” said Garrett.