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Community forum on police and minorities calls for open doors
With two alleged police brutality cases in the Twin Ports over the span of two years, the community has found a way to improve communication with law enforcement.
Brad Phenow reports about a gathering last night.
About 20 members of the community and one law officer filled the Central Hillside Community Center to improve their relationship. Renee Van Nett of Native Alliance Duluth says it’s time for talking. She says in order to put an end to the police brutality, they need to change things.
“We want to create really good relationships. Something for our children to be here in a good way and that they’re not getting hurt. We’re looking for our future it’s not just about us.”
She says the relationship with the police could be better.
“It’s a work in progress. So far they’re really open, and we’re really open. It has to be that way or else we won’t get anything done.”
She says they have been planning these forums ever since the video of Anthony Jackson, a Native American, was repeatedly punched by Duluth Police officer Richard Jouppi. She says with the Natasha Lancour case last month in Superior when a police officer also repeatedly punched her, people of color need to start discussing these issues.
“Come on people of color come together. We need to work on this issue together.”
Duluth Police Lieutenant Leigh Wright was the lone officer at the forum. She is the liaison between the Native American community and the police department. She says relationships are important as they move forward.
“We’re in a really great place to have open and honest discussions. We may not always agree with each other, but I think for the most part we respect each other.”
She says the perception of officers targeting people of color needs to be clarified.
“Officers do focus on behaviors, not the colors of an individual’s skin.”
She says they will continue to work with the community to improve their relationships with the community, and people of color.
“We want to open our doors as much as we can. That’s why the chief supports these as long they’re done in an open, honest, and respectful forum.”
The next forum is set for March 13; the location is still in the works.
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