By Briley Gargis
WARSAW – Mission Point Church Lead Pastor Kondo Simfukwe rode along with Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes Wednesday, June 10, for a conversation regarding race relations and policing.
With the recent protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, communities across the country have had their own protests calling for the end to police brutality. Warsaw and Winona Lake have seen three recent protests, including one on Wednesday, June 3, in which Dukes spoke to the crowd about bridging the gap between police and minorities.
Simfukwe has been vocal about the current situation. On his personal Facebook page, along with the weekly sermons being given on the church’s Facebook page, Simfukwe has been leading the conversation on race relations, division and equality.
He describes these times as “cracks that are being exposed, cracks that have been forming for a very long time.”
Their ride-along Wednesday was a deep dive into the current situation and a chance to share their own perspectives. The video can be found on the church’s Facebook page.
“Our sheriff’s humility and courage are reassuring and inspiring. With leaders like him, our future is bright,” Simfukwe said.
The Mission Point pastor wanted to cover some issues during the conversation, mostly about the power of getting beyond the categories and having real conversations about police reform.
“I think one of the best ways to deepen understanding is to be willing to step into each other’s worlds….hear each other’s stories and just see the world from each other’s perspectives. This was a great way for me to do that personally and invite others to venture beyond the labels,” Pastor Simfukwe said in an email to InkFreeNews.
In the video, Dukes began by explaining that police officers are humans along with everyone else. “Looking at the current environment we are in, we are husbands, we are dads, and I put on my pants the same way you do,” Dukes said. “Men are tired, they are stressed. They deal with things and see things – especially different crimes. We get called to your house when something bad happens. And to go home and see how they are being talked about, it is stressful.”
Dukes said there is no room for racism in the department and added that the majority of police officers “have goals to not take people to jail.” Especially here in the community, the officers don’t assume that whoever it is they are dealing with will go to jail, but instead, work with them to “set them up for a path to success.”
Kondo also voiced his ideas on ways the community can move forward. He said, “We are brothers that are trying to figure out how to make this county and country better.”
Simfukwe said race relations can be improved by getting to know someone and talking to them about their views, as opposed to talking about them.
Dukes admitted that he has “not reached out to the African American communities and Hispanic communities just to introduce myself.” Dukes said that he feels horrible about that and has made it an important change for himself.
“Getting to know each other and seeing and realizing there are problems is how we make Kosciusko County a better community,” Dukes said. “As the sheriff of Kosciusko County, it is my job to play an active role in fixing this issue.”
Simfukwe wanted to have the conversation with Dukes because “so much of the tension and division in our nation is the result of vilifying entire categories of people based on the actions of a few. Law enforcement as a whole has been a target of criticism because of the inexcusable actions of a few,” Simfukwe said.
“If nothing else, I wanted to help demolish generalizations and spotlight the good,” he said.
“It is a turbulent and divisive time in our country and yet, I am humbled by the way so many in our county are taking responsibility and choosing to be part of the solution. We are not there, but we are definitely on the road towards understanding, healing, and unity,” Simfukwe said.
“I believe systemic racism exists in our nation (as well as many others) and needs to end,” Simfukwe said. “I do not believe the current and prevailing spirit of Kosciusko County perpetuates it. There is a profound willingness to uproot it in all its forms by those in positions to do so.”