Politicians, community leaders, and law enforcement officers took part in a Zoom interactive roundtable discussion on Wednesday to address racism in our community.
They focused on what needs to be done to prevent what happened to George Floyd from happening in South Florida.
It was a real and raw discussion on race relations in South Florida.
Rooted in the death of George Floyd and public outreach, Congresswoman Donna Shalala gathered South Florida lawmakers, activists, and police chiefs who sounded off on where we’ve been and where we need to go.
There were divergent opinions.
Dwight Bullard political director of the New Florida Majority said that there hasn’t been a substantive change in police behavior in generations and that blacks are systematically subjected to police brutality and racism.
“There are thousands who are accused and beaten by officers and their stories are never heard,” said Florida Representative Kionne McGhee.
The president of the South Florida police benevolent association Steadman Stahl said it was unfair to paint all police officers as abusive.
“No one wanted to be on those lines during the protests and you had officers being called murderers, being spit on and rocks thrown,” he said.
Some said South Florida has made progress.
Coral Gables police chief Ed Hudak, who knelt in prayer with demonstrators during a recent protest, said this, “If Black Lives Matter and Police Departments come together, we will show everybody else, regardless of their political affiliation, that this is a problem, and we can address it together collectively.”
Shalala is one of 150 co-sponsors on the Justice and Police Act. A proposed bill to change the culture of law enforcement and ban police chokehold.
“I see it as a broader issue as all of you do and I’m willing to work with everyone,” Shalala said.
This roundtable was seen as a good first step at looking at police brutality and racism.
No easy answers, but the beginning of a dialogue to get to real discussions on real change.