Mentoring session held for males at YMCA

Published 11:16 pm Monday, May 18, 2015

A mentoring session was held Saturday at the YMCA of Selma-Dallas County to teach males how to handle situations with police officers.

Junnus Clay, organizer of the “Stayin Alive” series, said he was training those in attendance to interact, not react to police.

“Those are two different words, learning how to interact and react. Most young black African American males have no experience interacting with police officers for various reasons,” Clay said. “They tend to see the police officer as their enemy rather than their friend. They tend to react and run rather than interact because that’s just the way they’ve been socialized.”

Clay brought in Ray Moore with the Selma Police Department to talk to the approximate 25 in attendance. All males 13 and up were invited to attend.

“Give him the benefit of the doubt as somebody who is concerned about you,” Clay said about police officers. “He’s not out to get you and that’s the purpose of this.”

Clay, who also started the Manhood Development Institute, said he wanted to do something after shootings around the country have sparked controversy and in many cases riots. He taught those in attendance not to run, what it implies when a person does run when they are in the presence of an officer and why it’s important to respect those in uniform.

“That’s why we have a police officer here today to teach them what those things imply when you are in a situation with a police officer,” Clay said. “The one thing I want them to go home with is to be determined to stay alive.”

He said he wanted those in attendance to think outside of the box and to notice and understand the importance of the buildings and businesses around them.

“I want to trigger their thinking and I want them to think beyond their normal pattern of thinking, because how many men under 21 years old go around thinking that everything exists for me and my quality of life? Clay asked. “They never think about why the grocery store is there or why the hospital is there. They never think about how valuable life is.”

Clay said Saturday’s seminar was his first, but he’s hoping to hold more. Future sessions will be held between Atlanta, where Clay currently lives and Selma, his hometown.