Diversity Commission Takes Different Approach to Forums

The intent of the new Diversity, Inclusion, Equity & Equal Employment Commission was to get public input and testimony about their true experiences with the Everett Police Department – testimony that was to come from young and old, no holds barred.

It seems, however, such a conversation was a little too much for many residents to have in public, so Chairman Bishop Robert Brown said they have decided to have such meetings with the Commission in more of a private format on Zoom.

Bishop Brown said last Wednesday’s opening forum was moved last minute to a private forum with the Commission and those wishing to give testimony.

“At the last minute, folks started to feel a sense of intimidation talking about the Police Department,” he said. “The kids didn’t want to tell their truth in front of Chief Steve Mazzie. We talked about it and decided to do it anyway and postpone that format. We met with folks until 9 p.m. on Zoom in a different way. Folks were very, very open. Maybe talking about the City is one thing, but folks talking about the Police Department felt there could be retaliation.”

He said it was still very important to find out the first-hand experiences that people had to share about their interactions with the Police Department, which is why they continued on with the Zoom meeting.

“In the end, I’m finding out it wasn’t just young people, but the older folks too – especially in the immigrant population that are trying to stay clear of any type of law enforcement, particularly ICE,” he said.

Brown said the Commission will continue to hear testimony and will present it in a final report that retains confidentiality so they can hear the real truth, but also protect those giving it.

“This has become a little more involved than we first thought it might be,” he said. “So we have to do things a little different to get the information we want. We will have a public forum where we will relate these experiences confidentially to protect people who have concerns.”

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