ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns held a virtual listening session Thursday evening with middle and high school students to hear their concerns about race relations and discuss ways they can better bridge the gap with police.
Commissioner Burns said he wanted to make sure their voices and perspective were heard loud and clear.
“We want to hear it directly from you, not from your pastors, not from your parents or mentors, but from you,” Commissioner Burns told the students during that virtual call.
Burns said he agrees that now more than ever it’s time to address the racial injustice happening across our country and he believes the youth perspective matters so much.
“We don’t want them to continue to grow up fearing the police, so we have to make sure we encourage them,” said Burns. “I want them to stand tall and have that confidence to know that you’re not substandard to anyone.”
During the virtual call Thursday one teen said, “To me, it’s been frustrating that still in this date, we’re still experiencing racism, and all of that.”
News 6 also spoke with two Evans High School 2020 graduates about their interactions with police and solutions. They’re also in a program called United Foundation of Central Florida’s Future Leaders United where they say they’ve had positive interactions with police.
“I think it’s very imperative for us to be more engaged in our community,” said Eliallah Dadzie. “I feel like the police themselves should have more training and more, but we should help them with that by complying.”
“It’s very hard knowing that because of my skin color, I’m still seen as a threat.” Angena Mathurin said, “It’s upsetting that black and brown people are still being murdered because of their skin color.”
Like many of their peers, they’ve seen the protests and are working to find new and creative ways to better bridge the gap with law enforcement.
Commissioner Burns said he plans to take concerns from all of the students and create a plan to give to Mayor Buddy Dyer to move forward in better addressing race and police relations.