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Johns Creek to host forum on police and race

Johns Creek is seeking residents to serve on an advisory committee that will guide the drafting of a Town Center Master Plan. AJC FILE
Johns Creek is seeking residents to serve on an advisory committee that will guide the drafting of a Town Center Master Plan. AJC FILE

Johns Creek residents can discuss concerns about policing and race during a city forum this week.

Billed as a listening session, the form will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at Johns Creek High School. Due to the pandemic, attendance is limited to 50, including city staff.  Residents interested in attending can submit a form online that includes name, contact information and questions or topics for the conversation.

The city plans to notify the selected participants by noon on Wednesday. For those who can’t attend in person, the event will also be live-streamed online.

CBS46 anchor Karyn Greer will facilitate the conversation, said Johns Creek spokesperson Edie Damann.

Thursday will be the first public forum on race since Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers posted controversial comments on the Black Lives Matter movement on his personal Facebook page. Byers addressed the post to church leaders and said they advocated for an organization that he described as supporting violence against law enforcement.

City Manager Ed Densmore said he has met with community organizers and interfaith leaders in step a toward a “healing process” in the city’s relationship with residents.

“It was a productive meeting where dialogue was begun between interfaith and police and city leadership,” said Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein of Congregation Dor Tamid.

The rabbi is a member of the Johns Creek Interfaith Alliance. Members of the group of 14 clergy were troubled by Byers’ Facebook post. The rabbi said he hopes the city continues to build bridges of trust with the community.

Byers was placed under investigation and removed from duty on June 15. Johns Creek is investigating allegations against the chief that are unrelated to his social media comments, according to Mayor Mike Bodker.