ELKHART — City police have agreed to sit down with a group of ministers and residents of Garfield Avenue next week in an attempt ease tensions following a chaotic weekend in a south side neighborhood.
Representatives of the Elkhart County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance met with residents of the 100 block of Garfield Avenue on Wednesday and city officials on Thursday, according to Dannell Brown, pastor of Agape Missionary Baptist Church.
The meeting will be 7 p.m. Friday, July 18 at Agape church at 248 W. Wolf Ave.
Brown said the meeting will be open to the public.
“I just want both sides of the city to come together and to have a conversation about what’s going on,” Brown said.
Tensions flared over the July 4 weekend after Cpl. Dustin Young suffered a broken eye socket in a fight with a man he ordered to get out of the street at about 9:30 p.m. July 3.
The alleged assailant, Reese Haithcox, faces seven charges in connection with the fight.
A video obtained by The Elkhart Truth captured the chaos and anger evident among police and residents as Haithcox was taken into custody.
Residents said they noticed an immediate increase in patrols and claimed police harassed residents in retaliation against the neighborhood because nobody who watched the fight attempted to assist the officer who was allegedly punched in the face at least 15 times.
Police denied any harassment or retaliation.
Residents said police continued to harass people and ticketed one person for jaywalking and another for not having a bell on his bicycle. There were also at least two other arrests in the immediate area over the holiday weekend.
“We don’t want this to fester,” Brown said.
Mayor Dick Moore confirmed plans for a meeting and issued the following statement:
“I met with Pastor Brown and several other African American pastors yesterday in what I thought was a very productive discussion. I assured them that I and my staff including police staff would meet with any interested and concerned residents. They said they would arrange it and they have. I have met with the pastors before and they have been very helpful in advising me.”
Brown said he believes if both sides can have a face-to-face meeting, it could lead to a better understanding.
The meeting will serve as an opportunity for Garfield residents to express concerns.
“I want them to know you can have your voices heard over this matter,” he said.
Brown said police were “very accommodating” over plans to meet.
This meeting is in addition to one set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 15 at the Historic Roosevelt Center to discuss violence and other problems.
Brown said he and others wanted to have a specific meeting about the Garfield incident and said the meeting set for Tuesday will likely involve other issues.