SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– About 30 Syracuse neighbors gathered Friday night at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church for a community and police relations town hall almost two weeks after an 8-year-old was put into the back of a police cruiser for stealing a bag of chips. 

Town hall organizer and community activist Alfonso Davis used the meeting to push back on the narrative he says the city created surrounding the video. 

“We know what we saw and you can’t change that narrative,”

Alfonso Davis, Town Hall Organizer

Despite being invited, no one from the police department showed up to the town hall to answer for their actions. A handful of elected leaders showed up including Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson. 

“We need to have conversation, we need to be transparent and we need to be honest about the things that’s happening in our community on both sides,” Hudson said. 

Community members were each given two minutes to share their thoughts or ask questions at the microphone. One Syracuse resident reacted to the viral video by saying, “That 8-year-old is me, everything I seen on the video, it was me.”  

The town hall also shed light on the history of policing and mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color. 

“The relationship between the City of Syracuse Police Department and Black and Brown communities has never been a real respectful one,” Davis said. 

Other speakers used the time to call on one another to unite as a community. 

“We need to come out of our comfort zones and come back to the community and fight for these kids because these kids are losing and we are at fault to blame,”

Community member

Ideas about accountability, funding, and access to programming were also discussed during the meeting. Common Council President Hudson added that Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens is working on creating a team of civilians to respond to calls involving kids, like the 8-year-old in the viral video. This team would behave similarly to the way Liberty Resources responds to calls for mental health. 

The organizers of the town hall hope to have similar meetings once a month and say Mayor Walsh and Chief Cecile plan to be at the next one. No word on an exact day or time yet.