Thursday town hall meeting on racial justice planned

DOVER — The Complexities of Color Coalition, the NAACP Delaware State Conference, the Delaware Repeal Project, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice will host their second of four town hall meetings to address racial inequities in Delaware’s criminal justice system on Thursday.

The meeting will take place at Whatcoat United Methodist Church in Dover at 7 p.m.

“We believe the system is broke,” said Dr. Donald Morton, Executive Director of the Complexities of Color Coalition.

“We have some structural issues and we just want to educate people on the racial disparities in the criminal-justice system.”

One of the main issues that will be discussed at the meeting will be the death penalty repeal.

In May, The House Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 not to release the bill to the House floor.

“There are real issues in our state about fairness in the administration of justice, especially as it relates to blacks not getting a fair trial in the courts and the death penalty,” said Richard Smith, NAACP Delaware State Conference president.

“Our leaders continue to neglect the basic needs of the black community and we will hold them accountable unless there’s a change.”

The meetings will be held in each of the counties, as the first meeting was held in Sussex County in September.

Daniel Walker, committee organizer for the Delaware Repeal Project for Kent and Sussex County, said he was pleased with the turnout.

“It was very engaging,” Mr. Walker said. “About 70 people came out. It was great, as we hope to increase that number during the next meeting and just continue to educate people.”

Dr. Morton said each county is different, but the problems remain the same.

“Each country brings its own temperament,” Dr. Morton said. “We have different panel members, so we expect for the conversation to be slightly different. It just happens that way at times.”

The next meeting will be held on Nov. 17 in Wilmington. The final meeting will be an online discussion in December.

Dr. Morton said the organizations hope to use the information from the meetings to tackle some of the issues moving forward.

“The sessions starts back up in January,” Dr. Morton said. “These meetings are only the beginning. We want to apply pressure  in hopes that changes will be made.

But Dr. Morton said it’s important to continue to raise awareness of racial issues in Delaware.

“Some people have issues and this gives them a chance to speak on it,” Dr. Morton said. “They get a chance to speak on the death penalty repeal and other issues that may affect them.”

Mr. Walker agreed.

“Delaware isn’t immune to the racial issues that are happening in the United States,” Mr. Walker said.

“We have dealt with some of the same problems as well, so it’s important that we hear from people to get their thoughts on the issues.”

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