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Town Hall Meeting Followup

By Joe Starkey



Town Hall Meeting Follow-upBy Joe StarkeyCouncilman Williams opened the June 12th meeting and welcomed everyone back to hear the responses by AISD and the City of Abilene to the concerns raised at the Town Hall Meeting on 1 May, 2005.{{more}}Mr. Erasmo Martinez gave the written responses of the AISD to those concerns dealing with the schools. This response was filled with numbers, statistics and other academic language that hid as much of the answer as it provided.Mr. Petty Hunter applauded the city for putting the complaint form on the city website, the police station and City Hall. He then read the written response from the city on the other issues in lawyer language which was basically shaped probably by the city attorney and hid as much answer as it provided.Mr. Hunter then stated that he does not intend to be a worn-out warrior because he did not have soldiers fighting with him. “It was the voice of the community, not LULAC or NAACP leaders that got the results received from the May Town Hall Meeting.” He related his experience when called for jury duty the previous week and only 60 of over 400 called were minorities with most of them asking to be excused stating that minorities in Abilene need to register to vote and be willing to serve on juries before they can expect justice from the system.The meeting then broke up into two subgroups. One dealt with the AISD issues and the other with City issues. Mr. Art Chavarez made the first statement in the City group with the opinion that Abilene police have a problem because the officers have no respect for minority persons and the city has no functional ability to deal with this. Several persons addressed the problems of finding a lawyer in Abilene willing and able to deal with minority problems. Mr. Gene Burgess asked those present to check their perceptions as perceptions cause fear factors. Several people spoke on different issues but the meeting ended shortly after one man remarked that we have come here to identify problems and create solutions but all that is happening is people making speeches. Councilman Williams then handed the group a sign-up sheet for volunteers to be on an action group. The action group will meet later in the week of 13 June 2005. While that was going around, he asked the group for specific opinions on the question “If your neighborhood is targeted for crime or drugs, is it OK if you are stopped more often?” Not one person opposed the stops but they did say that they wanted to be treated with respect when stopped.

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