CMC Participates in Department of Justice Community Forum

Bobby Bell at UMKC

Bobby Bell at UMKC

CMC participated in a conference at the UMKC Student Union last Monday, presented by The Department of Justice Community Task Force on Hate Crimes. The conference addressed hate within our community and schools and featured Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell Sr., who spoke about the discrimination he faced when he first came to Kansas City in 1959.

Nationally renowned experts Suellen Fried, author of “Banishing Bully Behavior”, and Leonard Zeskind, author of “White Nationalism within Missouri and Kansas” brought information and awareness to attendees. What caught my attention was the combination of social service and non-profit staff members, police officers, court employees, and federal agents; a combination of folks that usually do not work together toward a common goal.

Patrice O’Neil from the “Not in Our Town” organization invited participants to a break out session to discuss ways to bring public awareness and decrease hate crimes in the Kansas City area. My circle included CMC Executive Board Member Rose McLarney, CMC Restorative Justice Facilitator Mikhala Lantz-Simmons, and numerous FBI and Police Department representatives from KCMO and the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. The need for SAFETY, ACCEPTANCE and INCLUSION, brought about by AWARENESS, EDUCATION and COOPERATION between social service and law enforcement agencies punctuated the conversation.

Reduction in hate crimes, discrimination and bullying behavior must include preemptive discourse that brings people from different communities together for face to face facilitated discussions. Restorative Justice processes that include all parties effected by wrongdoing in creating plans for restitution works toward cooperation and acceptance to dispel prejudice. Conference participants had the opportunity to sign up for a continuing task force on hate crimes that will move forward with the support of the FBI and local law enforcement. Many attendees committed to ongoing work in this area. Welcome to the Peace Party!

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