In an evening for teaching, learning, and coming together, Jefferson Township residents, police, elected officials, and others gathered at the gazebo of the Township Municipal building to attend a peaceful teach-in. The event was organized by township residents Nina DePalma and Christine Anderson.
The evening’s peaceful event was designed to educate community members on racism that still exists in the community and what can be done to combat it and move forward. Christine Anderson opened the event, and the crowd observed an eight-minute moment of silence in honor of George Floyd.
Four speakers, Kate Vialet, Lynette Denson, Keith Peters, and Ina Joseph recounted moments of overt, covert, and systemic racism that they and their families have experienced as citizens of Jefferson Township.
There were poignant, powerful, and emotional moments as each speaker told their stories – all in the effort to be heard and to ask for others to try to empathize, learn, and gain a bit of understanding of what it is like to be a person of color in today’s society.
The evening ended with an audience Q&A session. One of the questions was addressed to the Jefferson Township Police: what does it intend to do about people of color being pulled over without cause.
Chief Sean Conrad responded with an apology that it has happened, and he encouraged anyone with an issue to contact the department, and they will take care of it. JTPD is a community-oriented department continually looking to improve itself and its relationships with the citizens of Jefferson.
Another impassioned question came as an audience member asked what the Superintendent and Board of Education planned to do to work diversity into the curriculum at large, so that children will feel safe and welcome in Jefferson.