UWS Students, Police Talk Race Relations
Forum Held to Prevent Future Misunderstandings
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Student minority organizations and police officers from Duluth and Superior came together Monday for an open forum on improving race relations between each other.
“Everybody has biases based on their own experiences,” said Officer Markon, Deputy Chief at the Superior Police Department. “I don’t know how you get that out of a human being, I just don’t think it’s possible.”
But Monday, students at UWS tried to take one step closer to eliminating bigotry in the Northland.
“The less we talk about things, the more they just get pushed under the rug or they blow over,” said Terra Brister, president of the Black Student Union at UWS. “But the more you have a discussion, the better we’ll be able to understand each other.”
Issues like racism can’t be solved overnight. But just having a conversation was the day’s main goal.
“We all talk about black lives matter, blue lives matter, we talk about the whole 9. But we don’t talk about it with each other,” expressed Brister, gesturing towards the group of police officers.
One major topic: what can happen during traffic stops.
“They think that if they do something wrong that the police are going to shoot them, and that is so far beyond anything that we train to do,” Markon told FOX 21.
But traffic stops can be dangerous for police officers. Many are killed each year after stopping a vehicle for a routine reason.
“Even though the person might be looking for their registration and their insurance, we don’t know that,” Markon explained.
Police officers say they are aware the Northland is a predominately white region.
“We have to think that they’re thinking, ‘Hey, I’m a black man being stopped by a police officer,’ and understanding that they may be on edge more so than we are,” Markon added.
While instilling fear in the community is not what an officer hopes for, a badge comes with a commanding presence.
“Our presence in uniform – with the uniform and a badge and a squad car with lights on it – is supposed to make people sort of sit up and take notice,” admitted Markon.
And by simply having this gathering, the hope is to help make our community a safer place for everyone.
“I take off my backpack, they take off their badge at the end of the day, we’re all people.” Brister said. “We just want to make something great, we just want a better community, that’s all we want to do.”