Community members have open conversation about racial equity in Charleston County

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on Monday hosted the third event in their summer community engagement series.

The goal is to raise awareness and have open, honest conversations about racial injustice in the community, education and criminal justice system.

The CJCC believes that in order to be a part of the solution, you must understand the root of the problem. Panelist LaTisha Vaugh spoke about how necessary these conversations are in the Charleston area.

“Many times it’s a difficult conversation, especially in the South where we believe in being polite,” says Vaugh. “But it has to be said because if we don’t acknowledge; we can’t change.”

The panelists were from different areas of leadership: law enforcement, the judicial system, education and more. They spoke about personal experiences and what they think needs to change in their lines of work.

“I think the beginning is having an honest conversation.” Charleston Chief of Police Luther Reynolds explained that he agrees with Ms. Vaugh.

“The bottom line is that we need to do better in a lot of areas,” says Reynolds. “We need to keep our community safe, but we need to treat people with dignity and respect.”

For the group discussions, rules required the participants to speak for themselves, be honest, and respect the group members.

One group was asked about the first time they ever experienced racism. The youngest at the table talked about feeling ostracized at summer camp when he was the only African American there.

The group mediator explained that having these conversations could help fuel potential action and bring people together.

“The purpose of this night is for the people who make the rules and who govern us,” he says. “They want to find a way to deal with things like that.”

Throughout the night people of all ages and backgrounds were able to talk about tough subjects in a safe place. The mediator at each table took notes about the community’s concerns.

The CJCC plans to read those notes and use them to build their next strategic plan. They plan to hold more events like this one on a smaller scale in the fall. If you’d like to learn more details, click here.

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