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Statewide Community Forum on Racism Set for Saturday

Calls for justice for the killing of Robert Ramirez in Laramie after a 2018 traffic stop have resurfaced in the wake of global protests targeting police violence against people of color. (Becker1999/Wikimedia Commons)
Calls for justice for the killing of Robert Ramirez in Laramie after a 2018 traffic stop have resurfaced in the wake of global protests targeting police violence against people of color. (Becker1999/Wikimedia Commons)
July 7, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- As the nation continues to grapple with police violence against people of color, the ACLU of Wyoming is hosting a virtual community forum on racism this Saturday. The event will take place online via video conference.

Antonio Serrano, advocacy manager for the group, said he hopes people in communities across Wyoming who have experienced racism in any form -- whether at school, at work, at the doctor's office or at the hands of police -- will share their stories.

"And this is going to be an event that's not going to be live-streamed; we're not going to be having law enforcement present, we're not going to be having media present. This is just for the community to be open and share what's really happening," Serrano said. "Because, too many places, we feel unheard. So, we want to make sure that people feel heard this time."

Serrano said at some recent events, hosted by elected officials and law enforcement, community concerns have been dismissed. He said leaders claim police misconduct isn't happening in their jurisdictions, or explain steps taken to ensure that behavior isn't tolerated.

Serrano pointed to the killing of unarmed Robert Ramirez in Laramie after a traffic stop in 2018, shot in the back by a deputy who still is employed in the Albany County Sheriff's Department, as one example that Wyoming still has work to do. He said people who have not experienced racism or police brutality but want to help create lasting change also are invited to the forum.

He said he expects many will be surprised to hear first-hand examples of oppression people of color deal with on a daily basis.

"I really hope that allies, they'll show up and listen, not take up space," he said. "They'll just hear what people around them, their neighbors and friends, what they're kind of experiencing all around us, and they don't even see it. It will be a good learning experience for people like that."

The forum follows in the wake of ongoing demonstrations across the globe -- including in Casper, Cheyenne and Laramie -- protesting the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

To join the community forum, register online at the ACLU of Wyoming's website, aclu-wy.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY