Beauty Instead of Ashes

It was a time of increased awareness of deaths of black people by law enforcement. Nationwide, anger increased, community protests and riots began to happen. It was 2016. 

In response, Monique Scarlett approached Sioux City council woman Rhonda Capron, Human Rights Commission Director Karen Mackey and Police Chief Doug Young with the idea of establishing Unity in the Community. She, along with Cliff J Coleman, saw the urgent need to bring communities of people together in love, peace, hope, and prayer. That idea was greeted with enthusiasm and fully embraced.  

A non-profit organization, Unity in the Community’s mission is “Keeping peace, hope, love and prayer in the lives of our community which will embrace the partnerships and support of citizens and law enforcement at all times.” The organization is one of the vital components of community policing strategies of the Sioux City Police Department.  

When asked to identify one of the biggest successes of Unity in the Community she said “bridging the gap that used to exist between citizens and law enforcement. Now there is communication and interaction that didn’t used to be there.” This interaction between law enforcement and citizens in social settings, community picnics and educational forums sets Sioux City apart from many other cities in Iowa.  People across the state recognized the progress made in Sioux City and bestowed the organization with the Iowa Humanities Award.

“We consistently engage in roundtable discussions, public forums, town hall discussions and annual city-wide community connection block party picnics with the Sioux City Police Department and Woodbury County Sheriff’s Department.” Scarlett notes. “In good times and in bad, we have a role. In bad times, we offer support and encouragement. In good times, we provide education and relationship building.”  

While the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the cancellation of the annual Dale Street Park Block Party in July, the group is still planning a fall Educational Forum. “My mom always said for people to make informed decisions they need information.” Scarlett said. “That’s the goal of the educational forums, to provide information and perspective. I’ve seen eyes opened because of the conversations there.”  

Scarlett recently stated “It’s time for the social media commentators to become participants. Stop sitting around your computer putting words on the screen, and start participating in your neighborhood and your city. If you want to see change, be part of it.” The interactions of the organization are crafted with love, hope, and prayer. The organization’s foundation on faith is critical to the founders.  

Unity in the Community welcomes volunteers and engagement of any member of the community. For more information visit their Facebook page, email or call Monique Scarlett at 712-574-1745.

By: Cyndi Hanson

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