ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Dozens of people packed into an Antioch church Wednesday night to discuss race and policing.
The discussion at the Antioch Church Family location titled 'Race Matters,' happened just weeks after news surfaced about racist text messages allegedly sent among a number of Antioch Police officers.
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Earlier in April, there was a heated back and forth between Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and a community member as those text messages were being discussed at a city council meeting.
"Standing up to racism is not an easy task and that is all that is," said Mayor Thorpe. "It wasn't an outburst, it wasn't a trigger, it was standing up to racism. I don't know how clear I can make that. That is as clear as I can make it."
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Wednesday's race conversation included Rev. Wanda Johnson, who is Oscar Grant's mom, and University of San Francisco Professor James Taylor.
"I"m suggesting to you that policing continues to evolve but it won't change for us and it needs to, and we got to break it's back, and we have to attack it like we did slavery," said Dr. Taylor.
As questions are still out there about what will happen to the Antioch police officers implicated in the scandal, Johnson made a call for defunding the department.
"The only way to change our system, the only way to make a difference, is allocating those funds to other programs some of those funds to our reparations," said Johnson.
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Mayor Thorpe said that many in the community are still hurting from those text messages.
"When I think about these text messages it's all in there. We don't mean anything," said Thorpe. "I'm the value of a steak dinner, I'm the value of a steak dinner in those text messages. My behavior is not the problem. The fact that that man didn't understand that people were grieving in this community because of racism and not just black people, but white people who were there apologizing for attacking myself and Councilwoman Wilson for the reforms that we've been trying to achieve."
The Mayor says the city has already launched a crisis response team that responds to certain 911 calls instead of police. Antioch is the first city in Contra Costa County to do so.
Thorpe says the official launch date of that team is in May but soft launch has already happened.
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