tonja garafola steve harvey

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM THE 'STEVE HARVEY' SHOW -- Tonja Garafola, standing, widow of slain East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's deputy Brad Garafola, discusses his death with show host Steve Harvey. The special, hour-long episode of the 'Steve Harvey' show airs Thursday.

Updated, 11:45 a.m.:

"We're just heartbroken," Tonja Garafola, widow of slain East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola, told a TV audience on the "Steve Harvey" show this morning.

 

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Garafola was the first guest to speak during a a special, one-hour episode of the nationally syndicated talk show's town hall-style conversation on “Race and Policing.”

Garafola achingly shared how much her children miss their father, one of three local law enforcement officers killed in August in Baton Rouge in what investigators say was retaliation for the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers.

"If people expect law enforcement to see beyond color, then people need to see beyond the badge, see that these officers are human, and all they want to do is get home safe," Garafola said.

Harvey called the Baton Rouge police shootings, which also wounded three officers, "sickening." 

Ja’mal Green, a member of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in Chicago and an outspoken critic of police tactics, talked next.

"We're with you," he said, addressing a tearful Garafola directly. "We don't condone violence." Green then crossed the stage to share two hugs with Garafola.

"That (the police slayings) should not have happened," host Harvey said. "There's a deeper problem beyond policing."

Other guests ranged from law enforcement officers to activists, to a white mother raising three adopted African-American children, to two 29-year-old black men whose recent encounter with the police went viral after they were stopped in an upscale neighborhood where they had purchased a house.    

Wrapping up the hour, Harvey said, "Everybody's not going to be an activist, but in our own small way, we can start to change."

ORIGINAL STORY:

Tonja Garafola, widow of slain East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy Brad Garafola, will be part of a special, one-hour episode of the "Steve Harvey" show Thursday.

The topic of the nationally-syndicated talk show's town hall-style conversation will be “Race and Policing.”

Brad Garafola was one of three local law enforcement officers killed in August in Baton Rouge in what investigators say was retaliation for the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers.

Other show guests will include:

  • Ja’mal Green, a member of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in Chicago and an outspoken critic of police tactics.
  • The Game, a rapper and South Central Los Angeles native, via Skype, who'll talk about the peaceful march he helped organize in LA this summer with fellow rapper Snoop Dogg. 
  • Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, with first-hand accounts of the rioting that took place in his city this summer after an officer-involved shooting. He'll also discuss the challenges facing police departments around the country and what his department is doing to solve the crisis.
  • Deputy Matt Faile with the Chester County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina, and Robert Dingle, a teen involved with the “Black Lives Matter” movement in Chicago. The teen goes on a ride-along with Faile to promote better understanding on both sides. 
  • African-American country artist Coffey Anderson, who made a video this summer educating people on what to do when pulled over by the police.
  • Deb Besinger, a white mother to three adopted African-American children, from Raleigh, North Carolina. Besinger is concerned about the potential interactions they may have with police officers. 
  • Alphonza Mabry, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Steven Jumper of Eden, North Carolina, two 29-year-old black men whose recent encounter with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department went viral. The two men went in together to purchase a house in an upscale neighborhood, with the intent to flip it to make a profit. They were pulled over while driving in the neighborhood and believe it was because they were being racially profiled. 
  • Police Chief Pete Goldman with the Oakwood Hills Police Department in Illinois, with insight as to how their officers are trained to interact with the public to try and avoid negative encounters.

"Steve Harvey” airs at 10 a.m. on WAFB, Channel 9 (cable Channel 7) in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, and at 2 p.m. on WDSU, Channel 6 (cable Channel 7) in New Orleans.

Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.