Commentary: CPD forum a missed opportunityBy Rumni Saha
On March 12, the Canton Police Department hosted an incredibly important night at the Canton Public Library titled “Black and Blue: All Lives Matter,” an open forum on police and race relations. Police Chief Berkowitz and Attorney Ernst Guerrier openly discussed some very pressing questions with the public. It was a crucial event, especially in light of the recent incidents and the subsequent tensions, misgivings and mistrust that many civilians have come to harbor towards our men and women in uniform.
A difficult conversation such as this is an essential first step toward understanding and thereby mending relations and restoring trust within the community. I applaud Chief Berkowitz for taking the initiative to keep dialogues open and taking care to ensure that different opinions were heard and some very sensitive topics discussed respectfully. I also have the utmost respect for those who decided to show up and sincerely participate in the difficult discussions.
At the same time, I must regretfully mention that I was tremendously disappointed by the apathy of the community at large to partake in this crucial dialogue. While I understand how difficult it is to sometimes juggle expectations and responsibilities, especially at the end of a long day, this has to do with social justice and therefore should have been a priority; instead many community members chose to stay away and therefore remain apathetic. What bothers me greatly is how many in our community have a strong (and often negative) opinion about the police, but very few have the audacity to face these touchy subjects head on. It was a missed opportunity for many to be part of an insightful, spirited discussion.
The truth is that building community relations is just as much “our” responsibility as “theirs,” and unfortunately, by making a concerted decision to stay away, many missed an important first step toward just that. Thank you again to the chief, the Canton Police Department, and Attorney Guerrier for a bold night. Your efforts to build a better, more informed community where every life matters and every voice feels respected are commendable.
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