NAACP plans forum to discuss vigilantism, race in wake of shootings; location unclear

astice@islandpacket.comJune 7, 2012 

The Trayvon Martin case, the shooting death of Carlos Olivera, racial disparity in the justice system and other legal topics are to be discussed at a forum Saturday presented by the Hilton Head-Bluffton NAACP.

Representatives of the legal and law-enforcement professions will speak and field questions at the forum, which is open to everyone but aimed at youth, event organizers say.

The forum is slated from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, but the location is unclear. Advertisements and NAACP members say it will be at the Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club on Gumtree Road, but club director Kim Likins said the club's space has not been reserved Saturday and that club management has not been contacted about the event.

Attempts Thursday to reach event organizer Joe Maddox were unsuccessful.

NAACP member Harold Jenkins said he is certain the club has been booked for the forum."It's going to be a fairly open discussion, and there's no agenda we're pressing other than to educate people about what types of crimes are going on in our communities and how we defend ourselves against crime legally," Jenkins said.

The Florida shooting death of 17-year-old Martinby George Zimmerman and the fatal shooting of Bluffton's Oliveraby tow-truck driver Preston Oates -- both cases in which minorities were killed and the defendants claimed self-defense -- will be discussed as part of a larger conversation about vigilantism, NAACP member Zana Jones said.

"We're trying to find out whether citizens in South Carolina need to know more about South Carolina and how they could be protected from vigilantism," Jones said. "We're very concerned about our youth, but this forum is for anyone who feels they may be a target."

For more information about the event, contact Maddox at 843-208-8777.

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