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NAACP forum starts dialogue with police
Letter to the editor

Editor, I want to address the front-page, above-the-fold news story by Randy C. Murray, “Is there racial profiling in Liberty County?” (Wednesday, April 1).
While I have the distinct honor of serving on the executive board of the Liberty County Branch of the NAACP, I’m writing this letter as a private citizen and one who buys and reads the Coastal Courier regularly. I start by saying that the recently held forum was the branch’s way of opening dialogue with local law enforcement and, in my opinion, that was achieved in a major way. The event was conducted in a professional manner, mainly because the executive board and forum-committee members insisted on getting the prepared questions to the assembled panel in advance of the forum so as to avoid any awkward “gotcha” moments. There were 18 questions in all, and being that only one centered on racial profiling, it makes me wonder, why this headline?
The NAACP is our nation’s oldest civil-rights organization, and while there have been and continue to be image issues at the national, state and local levels, our intention here in Liberty County is to work to change that image and help the branch take its rightful place in our community. This gathering was in no way meant to divide the community as the headlines seemed to suggest, but instead to bridge gaps that are perceived or otherwise. It’s my opinion that the Courier’s somewhat-sensationalized headline took away from the event’s intent and purpose.
In closing, one may ask this question about the existence of racial profiling here in Liberty County, and while I hate to answer a question with a question, I will ask, “Does a bear use the bathroom in the woods?” Of course, and to that end, the answer to both questions is yes, but thanks to this newly formed partnership, these issues will be addressed and hopefully resolved by those in positions to do so whenever they occur.
The Liberty County Branch of the NAACP meets the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Historic Dorchester Center in Midway. The public is welcome to attend.

Gary Gilliard

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