The city of Lakeland has scheduled a community forum on race relations for Monday evening as part of its response to community concerns following nationwide protests of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Here's what you need to know if you plan to attend or watch it live online or on cable:

What: Community forum on race relations

Purpose: “The forum will be set up to allow the community to share their views on issues of race and equality,” the city said in a news release.

Where: Youkey Theater at the RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime St.

When: Monday, June 29, 6 p.m.

Ending time: The forum is scheduled to end at 8 p.m. but City Manager Tony Delgado told city commissioners two weeks ago it could last longer if people are still waiting to be heard.

Watching live: The forum will be broadcast live on the city website's LakelandGov TV page as well as on cable channels Spectrum 643 and FiOS 43. A caveat: The city has experienced technical difficulties during live feeds recently and had bandwidth issues while streaming planning meetings from the RP Funding Center during the spring.

Format: The meeting will open with remarks from Commissioner Phillip Walker. Then representatives of four community organizations will speak. After that, members of the public who sign up at the event can speak for up to three minutes each.

Moderator: Mayor Bill Mutz

Role of city commissioners: Commissioners will sit at the front, facing the audience. Their role is to listen, according to Mutz, who said: “We want the forum to be a time of listening and it is important for the community to know that we will not have solutions on the night of the event. However, solutions will come after we hear from the community.” 

Speakers giving overviews at the beginning of the forum:

  • Jarvis Washington, representing Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk
  • Jackie Vickers, representing NAACP Lakeland Branch
  • Chrissanne Long, representing BRIDGE Local
  • Tim Mitchell, representing Parker Street Ministries

Signing up to speak: People may sign up after arriving for the event. Each speaker will be given a number that will be called by Mutz when it's their turn to speak. Speakers will go to one of four microphones set up in the auditorium. Marks on the floor behind the mics will help with social distancing. Each speaker has up to three minutes.

Parking: Attendees are asked to park in the green parking lot along Lime Street and enter through Entrance One, both shown on the map below:

Coronavirus precautions: Attendees will be required to wear a mask. Social distancing measures will be attempted.

Entry procedure: According to a city news release, “All visitors will be screened upon entry to the RP Funding Center. Visitors must have a temperature below 100.4 degrees and they must not have travelled to a known out of state COVID-19 hotspot. Visitors will be asked if they have experienced a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or problems breathing, chills, muscle pain and/or loss of taste or smell within the last 12-hours.”

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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1 Comment

  1. I think in our current climate this is not the time to have this type of gathering. Tensions are high and cases of Covid are rising. You are inviting trouble to erupt in this style forum.
    Suggestion;WAIT until the racial tensions cool down some and have it at an outdoor venue, limit attendance numbers and they must register in advance, 8 pm is too late in the day. Mid- morning or later afternoon would be more conducive to the business and topic at hand. No out of town or outside of venue rallies allowed.
    We have done well to not have the issue of destructive riots and acting out that Tampa and many other cities have seen, don’t set the scene for it here in Lakeland.

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