Local pastor speaks out about race relations in America

The death of two African-American men during stops with police has re-ignited the conversation about race relations and police brutality across the country.

Large protests, marches, and rallies have been held in many cities including Phoenix. Now there are two more events scheduled for the valley on Friday.

Whether you're taking to the streets or discussing the issue among family and friends, it's a topic that nearly everyone is talking about.

"What I've been doing ever since then, every single day is meeting with people to organize and the reality is we have a five-to-10-year plan, so it's not going to happen over night," said Pastor Warren Stewart Jr.

Father, husband, and man of faith, Pastor Stewart says his life is a balancing act. Especially these days when he's fighting against police brutality, but doing it with the help of local law enforcement. Notably he's getting help from Sean Connolly, the Phoenix Police Commander of the Maryvale Precinct.

"I work with a lot of them, and they've been very transparent with us. We've been in a lot of meetings with them behind the scene with them. So I am for the Phoenix Police Department, I will support them in any way that they support us," said Stewart.

Two-years-ago, Stewart started "Faith and Justice Phoenix" to start a dialog between police and the community. It's a step in the right direction, but society has a long way to go.

"We didn't have a choice to be dark complected or to have melanin. They had a choice to become a public servant; we didn't. And so because you chose that role you have a responsibility to uphold, and there shouldn't be fear on both sides, but the reality is there is," said Stewart.

Gathering with a goal is a term Stewart uses a lot lately. While he respects the right to protest, he believes a solution requires more than showing up. That's why he encourages everyone to attend the city's regularly scheduled listening sessions and get involved in organized and constructive conversations with law enforcement.

"We have an opportunity to do something in Phoenix that nobody is really doing, and not just for hype, not just when the hashtag is hot, not just when somebody gets gunned down. We're pro-actively doing it," said Stewart.

He gave a specific example of how Faith and Justice Phoenix works. A few of his family members were getting pulled over for something as small as a taillight out, but it was happening over and over in the same area.

So Stewart asked what's going on here, it looks bad, and the commander said, "I'm glad you asked, we've been conducting a sweep in that area, and we've been pulling over as many cars as we can as part of the process."

Stewart says communication now is the key.