Speaking to a packed room Thursday, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt addressed the question on everyone’s mind: Could what happened to Trayvon Martin happen here in Chapel Hill?
“It was on my mind and all the mayors I spoke to because we all struggle to create safe communities in our cities and it’s a hard job to do that,” Kleinschmidt said.
Kleinschmidt spoke at a panel hosted by the town’s Justice in Action Committee, a group advocating for racial, economic and social justice in Chapel Hill. Panel members discussed Florida’s George Zimmerman case, and how the community has programs in place to make sure a similar event doesn’t happen here.
“This incident cast a huge shadow on those efforts, not just in Florida, but across the country,” Kleinschmidt added. “We strive to create neighborhoods in Chapel Hill that reject an image of what a specific person in that neighborhood looks like.”
Panelist and Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the department makes a clear distinction between the job of neighborhood watch members and police officers.