ORLANDO, Fla. – After George Floyd was killed last year in Minneapolis when an officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for just under nine minutes, his death and how it was handled sparked protests around the country, including here in Orlando.
Orlando city leaders recognized the racial tensions that fueled those protests. Now, the city has hired its first-ever equity official to make social and racial equality a priority.
Her name is Merchon Green. She’s a native of Indian River County and most recently chaired the equity committee for Indian River County Schools.
Green’s first day on the job was Monday. She told News 6 though she’s not from Orlando, she plans to be proactive and a voice for all people.
“I want to hear your frustrations, I want to hear your ideas and your thoughts,” Green said.
Green will be tasked with finding new and creative ways to address systemic inequities, review current policies and work to make sure everyone has equal access.
Green has fought for justice and equality for years. She also has experience advising on policy.
“When they’re talking about police relations and different things, I’m that person in the room that will bring the attention to those incidents to say, ‘Well, the Black community feels like this,’ or, ‘the Hispanic community feels like this on this issue.’”
Behind her passion for advocating for equality is a personal story with police and crime. She said her cousin was robbed and murdered in 2015. Years before, she said her uncle was shot and killed by police.
“Our family had an outcry for justice,” Green said.
She was appointed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who said her experience and her story make Green the best fit.
“I do think it’s an advantage her not being from here and not being prejudice in a way towards one group or another,” Dyer said.
Many residents said they welcome Green but they plan to hold her accountable, too.
“You’ve got to have results, so if she’s getting results then that’s good,” said a Parramore resident who identified himself as Tim.
“We need somebody that’s going to be proactive,” Washington Shores resident Alvin Royal said.
Green said she wants to get more engaged in the community and she even plans to attend organizational meetings with the intent of hearing their concerns.
If you want to contact Green, you can email her at Merchon.Green@cityoforlando.net