Police association to reschedule workshop on political activism

The seminar is to include how to fill out forms and collect petitions to become a candidate.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Black Knights Police Association decided to expand its reach this year by helping build a grass-roots network of political advocacy.
Leonard Williams, a retired Youngstown Police Department lieutenant who chairs the organization's Black Safety Forces political action committee, found out Saturday how difficult a task that is going to be.
No one showed up for seminar the group had sponsored.
"We're going to reschedule," said Williams, who was armed with information about becoming a candidate for public office and other nuts and bolts of democratic action.
The Black Knights Police Association formed 30 years ago to address issues in the Youngstown Police Department that some black officers felt had been ignored by the Fraternal Order of Police and other organizations.
This year, the group wants to take an active role in training the next generation of political leaders and activists, Williams said.
"The intent of this workshop was to inform the grass roots of the community about political activism beyond voting," he said.
Williams' seminar was to include how to fill out forms and collect petitions to become a candidate for political office and voters' rights.
This year is important, Williams said, because Youngstown voters will elect a mayor, a clerk of courts, a city council president and a judge.
Next year, party committee members will be elected. Those are the folks who appoint replacements to political offices that become vacant, he said.
Williams, who also served a stint as jail administrator for the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department, said a date has not been selected for the rescheduled seminar. He said he hopes folks take advantage of the information he has gathered.
"We know people do not want to research things they're not familiar with," he said. "You can collectively become powerful with knowledge. Political knowledge is power."
The deadline for filing in several communities, including Youngstown, to run in the May 3 partisan primary is 4 p.m. Thursday.