Harris also emphasized the importance of pressing into difficult discussions and working together to create positive change.
“For myself and some of the other players,” he said, “the message that we want to continue to put out is despite faults or issues that may pop up, we don’t think condemning and distancing ourselves and not having those hard conversations is going to be productive to bringing us closer together and building a better connection, where there isn’t such a harsh or troubling relationship between law enforcement and the community.
“In our efforts to continue to reach out, to continue to try and understand some of the layouts and some of the things that they go through, as well, and them hearing from our side and perspective, we believe that’s going to be something that bridges the disconnect,” Harris added.
Harris, currently in his home state of Virginia, shared about his experience just the night before.
As the safety was driving to get groceries, a passing patrol car in his neighborhood sparked a genuine desire for dialogue. And yet, there was some initial hesitation.
“Being an African-American man, sitting on the side of the road with my flashers on waiting for them to come out of the one-way street where I live, flag them down and have a conversation with them, it crossed my mind that I could be potentially shot or viewed as a threat just for what I was trying to do,” Harris reflected. “I made sure I proceeded with extra caution so I didn’t surprise them or, with everything going on in the world, that I tried to make them feel comfortable.
“It kind of just kept things in perspective of, no matter where you go or no matter what you’re really doing as an African-American man, that’s something that you can’t shake,” he added.
Harris did speak to the police officers for what he estimated was about 25-30 minutes, during which he asked for their thoughts on the current climate and different issues, ideas and solutions that have surfaced over the past week-plus.
Harris appreciated the opportunity to hear their perspective and ask questions.
It’s those types of conversations, he explained, that hopefully can be instrumental in making a difference.
“I just try to use my platform and partner up with the team to go out in the community, have dialogue with different officials, have dialogue with kids in the community, with law enforcement and to essentially push the message that we can create change if each individual person can do their part, use their voice,” Harris told media members. “After listening and gaining a ton of knowledge, then we can all come together with a plan or some sort of direction where we can make real, impactful change.
“But I just think that it starts with a lot of dialogue from different perspectives, getting more informed about the different topics or the different directions that are being discussed and just informing ourselves and moving forward hand-in-hand for one human race,” Harris continued. “Black Americans, white Americans, other ethnicities and different beliefs, just really coming together with one faith and one goal of trying to pursue and more positive life that we can all live on, and just really learning to love one another, giving each other the opportunity to really understand who we are and where we come from. And I think if we can do that, then I think that’s what can drive out fear of one another and bring us all closer together.”