The City of Dallas recently began a series of virtual town halls to discuss the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The meetings are a way for residents to weigh in on how their tax dollars are being spent, but some residents say the online meetings have been full of “shenanigans,” like people getting muted and written-in messages being ignored.
“They don’t want to hear us,” activist Tiara Cooper shouted to a crowd of about 70 people outside of Dallas City Hall on Friday evening. Chairs were arranged with each council member’s name on them, but none attended the event. “They don’t want to listen! But we’re gonna make them feel us today. This is the People’s Town Hall. We want to give everyone a chance to speak tonight. To share their thoughts.” …
Tiara Cooper was one of the emcees of the People’s Town Hall. She’s from South Dallas and organizes for the group Faith in Texas. Cooper was formerly incarcerated and works to organize other formerly incarcerated people around causes like this. And she said participating in the city’s virtual meetings reminds her of the criminal justice system.
“It reminds me of going to jail. It reminds me of being powerless. Even just listening to the people who do get to ask questions makes me feel so powerless,” she said. “These ‘conversations’ aren’t conversations. People don’t have time to actually speak on the issues they want to speak on. They’re very limited. And there isn’t enough access to the meetings either.”
Cooper said the sentiment that isn’t being allowed to be voiced at the city’s virtual town halls is that police don’t make everyone feel safe.
“Police never have made us feel safe,” Cooper said. “And I’m not surprised when I see crime in my over-policed neighborhood, because there’s a lack of resources. We need our needs to be met in order to be safe. And that’s what I feel isn’t coming across in these meetings.”
Excerpted from KERA News. Read the full article here.