Oh those rabble rousing Quakers.
On Sunday, before meeting for worship, Miriam DeShield shared a story of one of her employees, Tyrone. Tyrone had ridden his bicycle the wrong way on a one way street and had been stopped by the police. Things got a little out of hand and Tyrone was finally taken to the station and charged with riding the wrong way and with using obscenity with the officers.
Miriam’s concern was two-fold. Her first concern was teaching our students how to interact with a police officer in a way that would de-escalate a situation and her second was a concern about how the officers often do not show respect for the people they stop.
We took time to talk and ended up spending an hour deciding what to do next. We had worship following that discussion.
The result of the discussion was that Ms Miriam called into one of the morning talk shows and expressed her concern on the radio and invited anyone who was interested to attend a meeting at Friends Center on Thursday evening at 5:30. Meanwhile, Ms Candi tried to get Ms Miriam, Mr Oscar, and herself onto one of the morning talk shows on TV. That attempt was not successful but we did invite the students and their parents to the meeting.
Promptly at 5:30 Belizean time (5:52 pm) we started the meeting. Ms Candi and Mr Oscar set at head of meeting and introduced the school and the center. We then introduced Ms Miriam who introduced Mr Tyrone who told us his story. His story sparked a lively hour-long conversation. In addition to the attenders of our meeting and Tyrone, we had a woman lawyer who works with the human rights commission. She was a very active participant in the discussion.
The outcome of the discussion, as summarized accurately by Mr Oscar, was three-fold: Teach people how to interact with the police, teach the police how to interact with people, and to begin to form a coalition of people and groups who would have an interest, the thought being that we would have a much greater impact if we worked together than if we try to each work separately. We chose to begin the effort by gathering the coalition. We made a list of the groups to be personally invited to continue the discussion next Thursday evening.
Ms Candi will again try to get Oscar, Miriam and herself onto one of the morning TV talk shows and will make a point of telling the story and of inviting interested persons to the conversation next Thursday.
Of course there was food and people stayed around and talked for a good while.
It was, after all, a Quaker gathering.