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Re-Imagining Community Task Force hosts racial equity, public safety listening sessions

Chapel Hill's Re-imagining Community Task Force hosted a Spanish-language listening session for community members via Zoom on March. 16, 2021. The Task Force aims to improve public safety and equity by drawing upon community perspectives.

The Re-Imagining Community Task Force, a local government organization aimed at increasing public safety and racial equity in Chapel Hill, will host its fourth and final listening session on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The task force, originally established on June 24, 2020 by the Chapel Hill Town Council, has been hosting a series of listening sessions for local citizens and communities impacted by policing to express their experiences with security and equality in the Town.  

Serving on the task force as a part-time liaison, Chapel Hill Town Council member Allen Buansi said the Council passed the resolution after the national flood of support for the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer.

“It was in large part in response to the killing of Mr. George Floyd and the outpouring of folks in the community who were concerned about policing in Chapel Hill,” Buansi said. “As the Council, we wanted to, along with our community, re-imagine what public safety in Chapel Hill should look like.”

Chapel Hill Town Council member Karen Stegman, who serves as a full-time liaison on the task force, said the listening sessions and other relevant data will guide the organization on how best to proceed with public safety. 

She said the task force will release a set of recommendations concerning public safety to the Council after the sessions conclude. She said this information will aim to eliminate racism, bias and discrimination in order to enhance local security.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP branch Vice President Anna Richards emphasized the importance of the task force after the death of Floyd. She said the resolution is bringing together the community and the Town leadership in order to determine the future of Chapel Hill.

“We have an opportunity in our town to create an environment that’s safe for everyone, so I think it was necessary to take a look, and once (the Council) took a look, they wanted to make sure that nothing like that could happen in our community,” Richards said.

Along with Richards, Chapel Hill residents have been attending these listening sessions in order to express their own concerns and experiences with racial equity and public safety in the Town.

Sharon Holland, chairperson of the UNC Department of American Studies, went to the session on Saturday to express her own perspective on local safety. 

“Creating security means that the people around me in my community that I care for also feel safe,” Holland said at the session. “It makes me feel more secure if I know that more members of my community are being taken care of.”

Buansi and Stegman said after the final listening session, the task force will discuss and release their recommendations. Informed by these discussions, the Council then will proceed to take action to improve safety and equity.

“This is our community, and we have to decide what kind of community we want to have,” Richards said.


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