Minority and Equality Rights Task Force to hold forum on police interactions

Burlington County’s new Minority and Equality Rights Task Force will host its first public forum as part of the group’s ongoing review of social justice issues impacting Burlington County residents.

The forum will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 and will be centered on the issue of police interactions with the minority communities. It will feature a panel of speakers from law enforcement, the NAACP, social justice activists and local government.

“The task force is very excited to hold our first forum and to really begin digging into the issues,” Burlington County Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson, a member of the task force and one of the county leaders who pushed for its creation, said in a prepared statement. “Education and training are two really important things that can help our community change and heal. Holding forums and seminars is a good way to start that process.”

The group is charged with researching social justice issues and social justice issues and making recommendations on actions the county’s government can consider to promote equality and combat systemic racism and discrimination.

Task Force Chair Malikah Morris said the group decided the first seminar should be focused on police community relations, diversity and de-escalation trainings for officers, how to file a complaint, and knowing your rights when interacting with law enforcement, according to the statement.

“We know this is an issue that is on people’s minds,” Morris said in the statement. “We’re proud of the inclusive collection of voices we’re bringing together. We think the panel will be very informative both for our task force members and the public.”

Morris will serve as moderator during the seminar and speakers will include both task force members and invited guests. Among the panelists will be Burlington City Police Chief John Fine, Burlington Township Police Officer Jarrod Broadway, Southern Burlington County NAACP President Crystal Charley-Sibley, Servicios de Latinos Director Angela Gonzalez, Congregation Beth Tikvah Rabbi Nathan Weiner, Moorestown Mayor Nicole Gillespie and South Jersey Activist Boaz Matlack.

The seminar will be open to the public, but residents are asked to submit questions ahead of time by emailing equality@co.burlington.nj.us.

“We want to have a frank and open dialogue with public involvement, but also a respectful one,” Hopson said in the statement. “And while this is our task force’s first seminar, we intend to hold several more on additional issues, including education and the justice system. This group isn’t just for show. We want people to know we’re meeting and talking about the issues that are important to them.”

Residents interested in participating in the forum can log on from a computer, tablet or smartphone: Click here to join the meeting or can dial in by phone at 571-317-3112. The access code is 625-268-949.