Task force debates human rights commission creation
The Charlottesville Human Rights Task Force held its second open forum Thursday night to hear community members’ ideas about the possible creation of a more permanent commission to study discrimination within the City.
City Council launched the task force in February in response to a request from the Dialogue on Race, a local group that advocates discussions on racism and diversity.
The committee, if created, would investigate instances of bias or injustice in Charlottesville.
About 60 community members attended the event, hosted in First Baptist Church. Some audience members spoke of their experiences with discrimination in Charlottesville, including encounters with the police and the justice system.
“Race and poverty have a great deal in common in this community,” one attendee said. “This situation is political … but until we solve that I don’t see a reason for this council.”
Several on the panel endorsed the measure, citing their experiences with what they perceived as biased systems. “This is where we live and we need to make this the best community we can,” said panelist Lena Steppe-Jones, a member of the task force.
So far the task force has given a midterm report to the City Council on its activities. It has also reviewed commissions from other cities as models for a possible commission in Charlottesville.
The committee is expected to make a set of recommendations to City Council in December.