Getting pulled over by the police is one of the scariest things that can happen for too many people. Whether the worry is getting deported or getting shot, both the Hispanic and Black communities have reason to fear the police. While it will be impossible to relieve these concerns without a drastic change in policies that protect these communities, communication and openness is a good place to start.
This board would like to applaud El Centro Hispano and the Chapel Hill and Carrboro police forces for coming together to lead the community in dialogue about law enforcement and deportation. Over the course of three meetings, the police and El Centro Hispano engaged nearly 900 people in a conversation about the myths and realities of deportation laws under President Donald Trump.
Last month, President Trump signed an executive order that suggested he has plans to increase deportation of immigrants. Given that around 8 percent of the Orange County population is Hispanic, this order naturally alarmed many in our community.
The race relations forum in October 2016 similarly brought together law enforcement, activists and community members to discuss topics around violence against minorities.
By allowing activists and non-law enforcement officers to facilitate the conversation, the police establish their role as members of the community, not just authority figures. The community dialogue is emblematic of a larger push for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area police to bring the community together through dialogue.
At a time when there is immense tension between law enforcement and marginalized communities, discussion of grievances, challenges and the way forward are necessary in order to prevent violence. As the federal administration cracks down on illegal immigration and demonstrates that it is uninterested in protecting vulnerable populations, constant evaluation of how local police can separate their practices from federal regulations is imperative.
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