Bristol should have a civil rights committee that would “investigate civilian complaints against city employees” and endeavor to protect minority rights, a group of black leaders said Tuesday.
“Although we cannot change the past we can, however, change the future,” said a paper released by former NAACP President Monica (Ervin) Fore.
Fore and other black leaders are slated to meet today with Mayor Art Ward to discuss a request for a public forum on hate crimes in Bristol and to raise the issue of creating the new panel.
“I’m expecting to listen to what their concerns are,” Ward said. “I’m open to listening to hear more details as to everything and anything that’s proposed.”
Before endorsing anything, the mayor said, “my position is to sit down and hear what the concerns are” and to analyze the recommendations made to see if they are the best course for the city to take.
Though city officials deny that hate crimes have happened in Bristol for a long time, the report cites a handful of incidents between 2002 and 2006 that include vandalism in which swastikas were painted on a Jewish cemetery, the Beals Community-Senior Center and a golf club.
“Minorities in the city believe Bristol does have a problem,” the report said.
“It is sad that racism is still a very powerful subject that Americans argue over in this decade,
years after our forefathers marched through city streets and in Washington to change
the way minorities” are treated in America, the report said.
“At some point in time, change must occur because the future of our country is at stake,” it stated.
“We must come together and work to build a strong united front or we will be overtaken by our
enemies who desire to come into this country to blow up our buildings and kill as many people as possible,” the report continued.
“Our presidential candidates have recognized that the new president will have to address this problem as it has been one of the main focuses in this presidential campaign,” the report said.
“Together minorities and city officials in the city of Bristol, Connecticut can start this change that everyone is talking about and show our brothers and sisters across the country that change is possible,” it said.
The proposed minority affairs committee “will kick start this change in Bristol and ensure that everyone is respected and receives equal protection under law as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution of America,” the report said.
The mission of the new panel would be to try to ensure “there is no violation of an individual’s civil and human rights” in Bristol, the report said.
The committee would investigate charges about city employees, including the police, “and shall be responsible in reporting its findings to the mayor and proper authority for action.”
“The committee shall work with city officials to build stronger relationships with minorities in the community,” it said, and its members would become familiar “with policies and procedures of the various departments within the city in order to ensure that a fair review of the complaint brought to its attention takes place.”
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