Moderators of policing town hall describe what it’s like to be Black in the Valley

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Tei'asha Simms and Moe Jiles were young moderators for Youngstown's policing town hall on Tuesday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Earlier this week, a policing town hall meeting was held between the area’s police chiefs and Youngstown’s Black community.

Moderating for the Black community were young people in their 20s and 30s.

When 36-year-old Moe Jiles walked to the podium Tuesday evening to moderate his segment of the town hall, he kept his cap on backward to prove a point.

“Anybody that wears a baseball cap or any type of urban clothing, we’re not bad,” he said.

“[If] you don’t feel like these demands should be heard, you need to turn in your badge and resign,” 25-year-old Tei’asha Simms said at the meeting.

Simms led the discussion on police brutality. When asked what it’s like being young and Black in the Youngstown area, she called it an opportunity to create change.

“I feel like my generation and the younger generation coming up behind us is starting to build a bridge to where all three generations are about to collide. So I feel like right now, being young and Black and a part, it’s just powerful,” she said.

Both Simms and Jiles said they’re comfortable when in Youngstown, but once outside the city is where they witness racism.

“It’s when you go to these other areas — Boardman, Canfield, Poland — that’s when we start worrying about whether we’re going to get pulled over for what we’re driving, what we look like or basically for the color of our skin,” Jiles said.

“We have to make sure we don’t go outside the lines in places like Poland or Canfield because we don’t want the headache we know comes with it. We aren’t accepted there. We aren’t welcomed with open arms in those areas and they can make it seem like it’s not an issue but you’re not Black,” Simms said.

When asked if either would ever live in Poland or Canfield, Jiles said probably not.

“It’s not inviting. It’s never felt welcoming for a lot of us,” he said.

“I don’t want to say I would never do it, but right now I would say I would be a little cautious of where I live,” Simms said.

Jiles believes white people are intimidated just by the way he looks, but he said they need not fear him.

“Nobody needs to be afraid of Moe Jiles. I’m a teddy bear,” he said.

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