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Forum On Race Relations Set For Tuesday

Louisville skyline

Surging violent crime in Louisville and fractured race relations across the country are bringing local leaders together for a public discussion.

Louisville's homicide tally is on pace for a record high this year. The 2016 murder count is already greater than last year, which ended with the highest total in nearly four decades.

And a recent pollby the New York Times and CBS News found nearly 70 percent of Americans consider the state of race relations as generally bad. A separate pollfrom the Pew Research Center found views on race relations also vary starkly depending on race.

For instance, the Pew poll found nearly 88 percent of African-American residents believe more changes are needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites. In contrast, some 53 percent of white respondents believe the same, the poll found.

Roughly 760,000 people live in Metro Louisville, according to U.S. Census data. Close to 70 percent of those residents are white, 22 percent are black, nearly 5 percent are Hispanic and 2.5 percent are Asian.

Tuesday's town hall style discussion will include Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds and local pastor Kevin Cosby.

Radio host Terry Meiners and University of Louisville professor Ricky Jones will moderate the discussion.

The event follows a handful of similarly focused forums and panels that have occurred this year with the intent to address race relations and the relationships between police and communities.

Jones said to address the issues there "has to be something beyond talk."

"But we can't talk too much," Jones said.

A key to action, he said, is to regularly include in the discussion people with the power to influence policy to "engage in some political imagination."

"If things were perfect, what would they look like and how can we work towards that," he said.

The town hall discussion will begin at 6 p.m. at the Louisville Urban League. It's free and open to the public and will also be broadcast live on 840 WHAS and 93.1 The Beat.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.