Public safety officials, community members play for unity

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- “Unity in the Community” is the message law enforcement is trying to promote. Friday night, they decided to do it with a friendly game of basketball.

Cities United, the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Fort Wayne Fire Department hosted the “Unity in the Community” Charity Classic basketball game at Indiana Tech Schaefer Center, Friday night.

Dozens of people came out to see the match-up, but it wasn’t just about who won or lost. It was about bringing everyone together.

Wanita Coleman and her family were among those who showed their support. They could easily be spotted with signs that read We love FWPD” and “Show love.”

“We want to show up, show our support, make some signs and just let it be known that the neighborhood will come together when we’re supposed to,” said Coleman.

The message of unity was echoed by both public safety officials and the young people who were playing in the game.

“A lot of people think all officers are bad,” said Gregory Addison of the Fort Wayne Police Department. “I just want to come out here and show some of the children in the community not all officers are bad.”

For the young men, it was  an opportunity to interact with law enforcement in a different way.

“They’re just humans as well,” said Matt Jenkins. “I’m glad they’re able to come out and play with us to because with all that’s going on in the world right now…  we see this in our community and it gives us hope.”

Coleman said it was important for her to bring her children to watch the game.

“I always want to bring them in when we’re doing world changing things,” she said. “This is a world changing thing.”

She believes more activities like this will help bridge the gap between police and the black community. She was glad to be a part of it.

“This is just cool!” she said.  “You can’t get this anywhere but Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne Is really turning things around.”

Proceeds from the event went to Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana.

Organizers said there are more events like this to come. They announced plans for a late night basketball program that aims to keep kids off the streets during the times crime often happens.

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