With community tensions running high, Fresno city leaders meet to find solutions

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For the first time, Swearengin went on camera to talk about recent protests and anger in the community after officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Fresno. (KFSN)

Community leaders and elected officials held a private meeting Saturday to discuss race relations in the city of Fresno.

The meeting took place at Westside Church of God in southwest Fresno.

"We can't control national events but we can control what's happening in our own community," Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin said.

For the first time, Swearengin went on camera to talk about recent protests and anger in the community after officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Fresno.

She did this after sitting in a meeting Saturday with Fresno's police chief, sheriff, local pastors and other community members.

The mayor said all of those involved expressed that the true problem is not just about law enforcement.

"This is about things that trigger us as community groups and sometimes it manifests through law enforcement issues but if we just make it about law enforcement we're probably missing a bigger opportunity to deal with deeper racial intentions in our community," Swearengin said.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said it was an emotional, yet eye-opening gathering.

"A lot of tears shed in this meeting," he said. "We got to start wrapping our arms around people and loving on them and just because we don't understand another person feeling doesn't mean we don't care."

Dyer said the conversation that took place needed to happen to allow the healing to begin so that the city can be united.

"I want to see us get better," Dyer said. "I want to see us work with each other in our community."

Pastor D.J. Criner was one of few local members who spoke about the concerns some in the community have.

He says this is the start of something good for Fresno.

"People that you really wouldn't think shared a tear came out," Criner said. "I think it was the starting point of an ongoing conversation because there is no way that you can find a solution after one session that initially was supposed to last an hour and lasted almost two and half."
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newscommunityfresno police departmentjerry dyerashley swearenginfresnoFresno - Southwest
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