Parents, police in Athens show up for open forum after school arrests

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ATHENS, Ala. – Neighbors were invited to an evening meeting with Athens police leaders one week after an incident at the high school. Athens police chief Floyd Johnson couldn’t talk specifics about that incident in which three students and a parent were arrested.

The director of the Athens Boys and Girls Club invited people to the forum.

A room full of concerned parents were talking about tense relations between police and families and they had the attention of Athens police chief Floyd Johnson.

“A lot of times, we get together and point a lot of fingers, but we never get together and say this is what we need to do better,” Athens resident Ashley Gilbert said.

Chief Johnson and neighbors were invited to the gym after last week’s incident in which three students and a parent at Athens High School were arrested for disorderly conduct.

“What are the teachers going to do differently? What are we going to do as a community to train our children how to react in certain situations,” Gilbert said.

Johnson couldn’t give out specifics about what led to the violent encounter — as it’s still under investigation.

“We’re trying to hire the best we can. We’re trying to do the best we can. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect every time,” Johnson said.

With one month left of school, Tuesday evening’s forum was an effort by the Boys and Girls Club to begin forming a closer bond between families and police officers in Athens.

“I’m not afraid of anything, and I believe that as long as my kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and if the police tell them to do something, right or wrong, we can fight that later,” Gilbert said.

Chief Johnson said he plans to visit with more neighbors once they’re finished with the investigation, but he couldn’t say yet how long that’ll take. Some parents at the forum say they also plan to attend this week’s school board meeting on Thursday.

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