Protest Leaders Meet with GOP Leaders
Rep. Ted James and businessman Cleve Dunn, Jr. addressed the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon Tuesday on behalf of black leaders who want to keep protests in Baton Rouge peaceful and constructive.
Dunn said, “We’ve seen others tear down their communities, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen here. We’ve been on the ground from day one. We go to the scene of the biggest confrontations and try to make sure things don’t get out of hand.”
Dunn said his group has sent a clear message to out-of-state groups who want to come to Louisiana. “We’ve set the tone, and we tell them you are welcome but you need to adopt the peaceful philosophy that we have embraced. A lot of the media are looking for a train wreck, and we want to avoid that.”
Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) said he grew up on North Foster Drive, and the events were very personal to him. “When I saw the video here and then what happened in Minnesota and Dallas, I was sickened. Each one of these events was significant, and none should diminish the others.”
James said his group has been on the front lines often standing between the police and protesters. “When we have seen bad behavior from protesters, we have intervened. We have a command center and have stayed on top of things. We have told outsiders that if they don’t have something positive to contribute, then don’t come.”
“The protests are not an indictment of our entire police force. We know that most are good officers, and we work closely with Chief Dabadie, the Sheriff’s office, and the State Police.”
James and Dunn brought a number of other leaders with them, who also participated in the discussion.
The leaders were invited to the Reagan luncheon, which is the monthly meeting of Republican leaders in the parish, by East Baton Rouge Republican chairman Woody Jenkins, who said it is very important to keep lines of communication open. Jenkins has been attending many of the rallies and protests in order to speak with the people and listen to their concerns.
Jenkins said, “At the end of the day, we will all still be living in this community, and we need to come together as much as possible.”
A large number of Republican leaders participated in the meeting, including Republican mayoral candidates John Delgado, Smokie Bourgeois, and Bodi White; Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso; school board members Connie Bernard and Barbara Frieberg; representatives of Sen. Vitter’s and Congressman Garrett Graves’ offices; Ryan Lambert, national deputy field director for Donald Trump; leaders of the Tea Party, and many other groups. All major media outlets were represented.
Dunn, James, and Jenkins agreed the meeting was productive and said they want to continue the dialogue.