Dallas Bishop Unites Widows of Slain Baton Rouge Police Officers to Meet Family of Alton Sterling

Tonight, founder and CEO of The Urban Specialists, Bishop Omar Jahwar, will bring together the widows of two Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers who were slain by a gunman in the wake of the shooting of Alton Sterling in 2016.

The Course Correction Conversation, hosted by the Urban Specialists, will provide a civil discourse that the group hopes will “bring together violence victims, public figures, lawmakers and the community for an open discussion about widening divides in America” while focusing on reunifying the nation.

Brad Garafola and Montrell Jackson were killed by Gavin Long on July 17, 2016, in a mass shooting designed to purposely target law enforcement officers after civil unrest plagued the state of Louisiana. Tonight, Tonja Garafola, widow of Brad Garafola, and Trenisha Jackson, widow of Montrell Jackson, will meet the family of Sterling for the first time in Dallas on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Alton was killed in an officer-involved shooting on July 5, 2016,

The women professed the pain both families feel in their hearts and shared with Glenn why it’s important to share their experiences now.

Watch above.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Welcome back to the program. It's Martin Luther King Day. And we wanted to spend some time on something that is happening here in Dallas tonight at Achilles (phonetic). And you're invited to attend.

I want to take -- my family has plans tonight. But I can't think of anything more important than this.

And my kids should witness, because we are all -- all of us are going to face this.

We all have to decide who we are and where we're headed. Bishop Omar Jahwar is with us. He's the founder and CEO of Urban Specialist. And he is doing a course correction conversation tonight. You can find out all about it at Urban

But he is bringing some people together that don't agree. And are feeling pain on both sides.

And I want to introduce you to a couple of them. Tanesha Jackson. She's the widow of Montrell Jackson. He is the Baton Rouge police officer that was killed a couple of years ago, along with his partner, Brad Garafola.

Did I say that right? No. Can you say that for me?

TONJA: It's Garafola.

GLENN: Garafola, sorry.

And his widow is here. Tonja, welcome to the program. Glad to have you both here.

I'm sure that this is one of the last places you want to be. And, Tanesha, you are really -- you have a heavy mantle to carry because we -- all of us, I think remember your husband's Facebook post, just a couple of days before he was killed. And if I can quote, I'm tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some families and friends and officers for some reckless comments. But what's in your heart is in your heart. I still love you because hate takes too much energy. But I definitely won't be looking at you the same. I swear to God, I love this city. But I worshiped if this city loves me. When I'm in uniform, I get nasty, hateful looks. I've experienced so much in my short life. And these last three days have tested me to the core. Look at my actions because they speak loud and clear. These are trying times. But please, don't let hate infect your heart. This city must and will get better. I'm working in these streets. So any protestors, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and you need a hug or you want to say a prayer, I got you.

How did the two of you not let hate infect your heart after your husbands were taken?

VOICE: Like Montrell said, it takes too much energy. And we're already going through enough grief and pain, that we just didn't need hate adding to that.

VOICE: And I feel as if his Facebook post was so prophetic, and it was just what I needed to survive. And I won't late hate in my heart. And so I've been doing that ever since he has closed his eyes. I have not let hate infected my heart, even when there's times when I get upset and I'm angry. I go back, and I read that post. And I remember what he said. Not let hate infect my heart. And that's what I've been doing. I've been walking like that every day.

GLENN: Since July of 2016, you both -- my wife hates it when I say this to her, but you both look so tired.

VOICE: We do. You get used to sleeping next to somebody for so long, 16 years, and then all of a sudden, it's gone. So...

GLENN: Did your husband have anything similar? Did he feel this coming at all?

VOICE: He did. He didn't have Facebook. However, when the Dallas incident happened, I had -- I had made a wreath to represent the Dallas police. And he had actually sent it out to a mass email to the sheriff's office. People and other law enforcement, and saying that he was praying for them and that he had their six.

GLENN: So we were obviously in Dallas. And my staff was down on the street when the shots rang out. And the protesters were cowering behind trees and -- and cars with us.

And we started talking to each other because of that. And we -- we actually heard each other, I think, for the first time.

What -- what is it that you guys are expecting tonight? Come together and -- why are you here?

What do you hope is going to happen?

VOICE: I want everyone to realize and understand that we all experience pain. And at the end of the day, it's the same pain. And basically, to fix that pain is for us to unite, we need to love on one another. And just basically get us together. Because I know in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2017, the murder rate was through the roof. And there's just so much hate, hate. And at the end of the day, when somebody loses their life, each family member is hurting, and it's pain. And we want our cities to get it together.

GLENN: How about you, Tonja?

TONJA: Absolutely. Hoping to come together and learn something from one another. Even though our pain is the same, but we could always learn something every day. And learning from their pain and them learning from our pain will definitely help.

GLENN: You're going to -- you're going to meet the family of -- of a man who was held down on the ground by police officers and then shot in a horrific video. And they are coming tonight.

And that video is what stirred people up to kill your husbands. What -- have you met the family yet?



GLENN: What are your thoughts going into it, beforehand?

TONJA: I was a little reserved at first. But it's not -- it's not about my personal feelings. I need to let some of that go. And that's what I'm doing. So I can move forward, so I can heal.

TRENISHA: And I say at the end of the day, those kids have lost their father. And my son has lost his father as well. So I'm looking to see what I can learn from her. And I'm hoping she's looking to see what she can learn from me, because we both are hurting.

GLENN: Pastor.

OMAR: You know, man, I'm just -- see, this is what I'm saying. Listening to them, it makes me say, stop playing. Get serious with things that we take real seriously.

For them to be able to speak on it and having -- you know, this is not a long time. You know, a year ago. And they are here trying to figure out how we can be a part of something that they have experienced personally. It is just -- it's mind-blowing to me.

So I'm hoping that everyone sees them and feels what I feel. A sense of obligation to do what Montrell said. That was strong, and I read it.

And I know that this is the time. I know that this is the moment. And I feel -- you know, again, I'm a pastor. So in my spirit, I hear it. I hear the sound. I know it's time for us to do -- to do this.

And it might be difficult. And it is. And she's right. I've been asking her to do stuff. I know it's been difficult. Because I know it's time. And there are others who can gain from this moment. If we manage our emotions and get this message out right, this could be the start of something.

GLENN: It was a really difficult conversation that we had here in the studios, right after the Dallas shooting.

OMAR: Uh-huh.

GLENN: Because we brought in people who were protesting. And we brought in people from the other side.

And to break through the rhetoric, to break through the stuff that you're reading online -- and I want to say from the people who -- you know, there are some people who want to watch the world burn.

OMAR: Uh-huh.

GLENN: And what we found is a lot of the people that were there were horrified by this and were -- they were frightened for their own families and children, just in a different way. But we had that in common, that we weren't listening to each other.

We weren't -- they weren't hearing our fear. We weren't hearing their fear. And all we were hearing was the rhetoric.

OMAR: Right.

GLENN: And that's really hard.

OMAR: Well, you know, before we took a break, that's what I was about to say about gang members. What I learned from gang members, is the way you took someone's life is you have to dehumanize them.

You have to make them an object. See, the way a Crip kills a Blood is he's a Blood. The way a Blood -- because he's a Crip. And they use all these words. But that takes the idea in all this. That's a man. That's an individual. That's a family member.

She said it right. Those families feel the same way.

And I'm going to tell you something, no matter who it is that passes, no matter how treacherous they were, a person is still shocked and devastated when there is no chance for them to do whatever it is their life trajectory should do. So I try to remind people that humanity is a precious gift. Let's not take it for granted.

And sometimes we have to be reminded that this is real. This is not fake. This is it.

GLENN: We are -- we're at a place now, where we are dehumanizing each other.

OMAR: Uh-huh.

GLENN: It's amazing to me, I was on Facebook last night, or Twitter. And responding to some people who were just filled with, "You're not a person," because I disagree with you.

OMAR: Right.

GLENN: And is there -- is there a turning point? Is there a place to where it's too late?

OMAR: Well, I'm hoping not. I'm hoping not. That's why we're having this close correction. But I believe there is a place where we have so many casualties of that type of behavior, that even when we recover, we will recover at a lower state than we were. You know, there were a time when things can become apocalyptic in the way that we approach it. I mean, you can become the survival of the fittest.

See, whenever you get into survival mode, then you can suspend the rules.

Some people say, I don't need survival -- so it's okay. I do this because -- and that's how -- that's what we have turned -- ratcheted up this noise.

You know, I want people to understand, this is Tonja and it was Brad. I want people to hear, that's Tanesha. That's Montrell. I want them to hear that.

I want you to hear go through your -- I want you to hear that when you hear Andricka. She called him a seedy man. She didn't call him -- you know, when you see the little babies, they are babies. I saw her babies yesterday. He was a big boy too.

He's going to be big.

And, you know, I understand that this is very full circle. Sometimes we can try to shrink it because we want it to be appropriate to the pain we feel. And that's -- that's not what you do. You can't do drive-by analysis on complicated issues. You have to stay there for a moment. I didn't know you went out when the protesters did. I didn't know you had people here.

I did the same thing. We had -- we actually had -- the day after the shooting, we brought the protesters and the police together. And it was a very emotional, very tough conversation.

GLENN: Yeah. We got a lot of heat because we actually interviewed the family of the shooter.

And just listened to them.

And didn't glorify the shooter by any chance. But we really need to listen to each other. We really need to listen to each other.

OMAR: Yeah. Right.

GLENN: Thank you so much for coming. And thank you for being such a good example for your husbands and their memory. And we are truly sorry for your loss.

VOICE: Thank you.

GLENN: God bless you both.


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