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Mitch Ceasar and the Broward Democratic Party hosted forum on race and law enforcement

Mitch-CeasarMitch Ceasar and the Broward Democratic Party hosted forum on race and law enforcement

Ceasar, Satz and Weeks

By Maria Camila Montañes, FMU Intern

A forum designed to address racial and law enforcement issues were offered to the community of Broward by Mitch Ceasar as the leader of the Democratic Party and Sheriff Scott Israel to bring up current racial issues the nation has been facing.

State Attorney of Broward County, Mike Satz and Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon H. Weekes were among the panelists. These two powerful folks created tension on the topic. However, they both agreed on the “outrageous actions” that some police officers have taken towards Black young men as Mr. Satz said.

Issues were addressed by panelists who specialized in the topic and the tension between the two was oblivious.

Sheriff Israel, as the middle point for these two subjects, assured the necessity to be “accountable for those bad apples”, referring to any person within the police department who acts with racism and breaks the law.

Bringing this issue up, Gordon Weekes showed concern about the lack of attention states are having when police officers act on racial profile towards young Black men. Presenting a case in Fort Lauderdale in which Police officers accepted making racist comments, Gordon concluded that these police officers were charged but the state dropped those chargers.

Speaking of this particular concern, Gordon spoke to the Westside Gazette and assured that: “we need to have a state attorney that is progressive, that recognizes that there are some bad apples that need to be addressed and that need to be addressed firmly so it restores confidence in the community. That we purge the criminal justice system of any racism from police officers”

As for Mr. Satz, he suggested communication as the key and starting point to restore these situations. “It’s so important for young people to learn what’s going on in their community. Communication is the key. Because he [Mr. Weekes] can say something and I can say something. What he was saying was being divisive. It wasn’t bringing the community together.” Satz’s response came after he considered it not a crime if police officers make racial comments. Based on this statement, the tension began in the room, changing the climate of the debate.

According to some assistants from the Sheriff’s office, about 200 people attended the event, with the majority of them being seniors who are members of the Broward Democratic Party.

Some of the young people who attended the forum were part of the Dreamer Defenders organization. Dreamer Defenders are accordingly a self-described “organization directed by Black and Brown youth, who confront systematic inequality.”

Jasmene Rodgers, a young lady from Miami Gardens, stated, “I believe this forum was a good first start, but I also feel like it was a very superficial conversation about police relations in the community.” Her comments referred to the distrust the community has developed towards police and law enforcement and the lack of action from the law to punish those bad apples.

“Trust comes over time. Trust starts with community forums like this. So people get to learn more,” Ceasar expressed in his willingness to work hard. He encouraged everyone to start communicating and having these conversations among everyone whether you are Republican or Democrat. “To make this process work we have to invite and be inclusive not exclusive and to do that, we have to take the step and perhaps including people that we may not like  or want but we must do that.”

Reactions among the public were positive as they engaged in the conversation. Some asked the panelists about the idea of imposing body cameras. Most of the panelists agreed on that it would protect the community as well as police officers.

As 2016 presidential elections come closer and closer, Americans have been debating and talking about these current issues that are affecting minorities. It is then so crucial to start communicating and start taking actions to make big changes. It is 2015, and America cannot afford more racism and discrimination. It is time for small changes that will lead to big transformations in our diverse society.

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