June 15: Keene to hold racial-justice forum via Zoom

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The city of Keene has announced it will host a virtual public discussion on racial justice Monday.

The event is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be accessible either by phone or via the teleconferencing application Zoom. Four panelists are slated to attend the meeting: Dottie Morris, Keene State College’s associate vice president for diversity and inclusion; Rick Van Wickler, recently retired superintendent of the Cheshire County jail; Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera; and Keene police Lt. Shane Maxfield.

The forum will begin with brief presentations from panelists, and then the floor will be opened to members of the public.

The event follows about two weeks of protest stemming from the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd, a black man who died May 25 in the custody of Minneapolis police.

Morris and Van Wickler have both agreed to serve as co-chairs for an ad hoc committee Mayor George Hansel announced the city will be forming next week to discuss issues related to race. According to a Thursday news release from the city, this committee will meet for several months following the forum and will make recommendations to the City Council.

”The forum and subsequent committee are the first steps in what I expect will be an ongoing effort to build, grow, support and maintain an inclusive community with a culture of equity and fair treatment of all people,” Hansel said in the release. “The forum is about listening to the perspectives and experiences of people of color in our community. The ad hoc committee will start the process of enhancing trust and finding solutions to ensure the Keene community values all visitors and residents.”

Hansel is still working to finalize a list of committee members, which he said he plans to introduce to the council during its June 18 meeting.

Those interested in attending Monday’s forum can do so by going to www.zoom.com and using the webinar ID: 852 5983 2165 or by calling 1-877-853-5257. Those who would like to comment or ask a question can notify the meeting hosts by pressing 9 if calling in by phone or by using the “raise your hand” feature on Zoom.

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or msummerson@keenesentinel.com.


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