Downtown Raleigh church forum brings community together to discuss change

The meeting at Revelations Baptist Church on Monday night. WNCN photo

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Seven days after a deadly officer-involved shooting, a southeast Raleigh community is trying to prevent another loss.

The Revelations Baptist Church held a community forum Monday night to discuss how they can move forward together. In the basement of the church, resident after resident called for action.

“It’s so heart-wrenching and all I can say is, ‘When does this vicious cycle stop?’” said one resident.

Akiel Denkins
Akiel Denkins (Courtesy: Denkins family)

“We sit around here every Monday and talk and talk and talk. Now it’s time to take action after this young man’s death. It’s time to go out here and do what we need to do in this community,” said another resident.

The group discussed the shooting of Akiel Denkins by a Raleigh police officer during a foot chase.

“Between the church, between the streets, between the old guard, between law enforcement and the non-profits, we have to find a way to put down whatever divides us,” said an attendee.

The church has been having these meetings for over a year, but organizers say they haven’t seen so many people come out. On the 70th meeting of the Bring Back the Village Forum, representatives from the church, the court system, and even gangs discussed how to better their neighborhoods.

Revelations Baptist Church Associate Minister Diana Powell, says it starts with education, especially when it comes to those in trouble with the law.

“The worst thing you can do is run, and we got to teach them you can’t run, let’s deal with it. There are people on the ground that are willing to help you. There are people in the courtroom that are willing to help you,” said Powell.

She says it will take the whole village to make a change, but with a concerted effort from multiple organizations and communities, it can happen.

“We can do this. We can do this. It will take one day at a time, one step at a time. We can do this because we are great people,” said Powell.

There was certainly sorrow from residents at the forum, but there was also optimism. Powell says Denkin’s death is the push they needed to set change in motion.

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