By: Taylor Fulkerson ~Managing Editor~
Norwood residents gathered in Bellarmine Chapel on March 3, promising to bring about a “new day in Norwood” through healing and dialogue. “Having people come together and just openly dialogue about who they are, where they are (and) how they got where they are” was the goal for the evening according to Pastor Sonny James, who lives in Norwood.
“A New Day in Norwood” sought to address a letter from Norwood’s mayor as well as racism in the community at large. About 35 Norwood residents were in attendance in addition to four officers from Norwood Police.
Norwood Mayor Thomas Williams wrote a controversial letter to Norwood Police officers in December 2014 warning officers to be cautious in executing their duties.
Williams claims in the letter that “police officers across the country are under attack by race baiting black leaders,” and that, “God forbid, something controversial would happen, I WILL NOT ABANDON YOU.” Some activists and community leaders have decried the letter as racist.
Several ministers in the local community joined a team of eight local residents in planning the event around reflections geared toward race and reconciliation. Attendees reflected in small groups of six to eight people on their experiences in Norwood with race.
After small group reflections, a moment of silence followed before Chief of Norwood Police William Kramer spoke on behalf of the department, highlighting six steps the department will be undertaking to improve relations between the department and the Norwood community.
Norwood Police will be instituting a board to promote contact with the local community.
There will also be a contact officer assigned to each ward of Norwood in the future, and there will be active recruitment of minorities for officer positions.
The chief announced that Norwood recruited its first black applicant this spring. If hired, he would join a force of 46 white male officers and one white female officer.
The evening concluded with prayer, asking God to aid Norwood residents in seeking peace in their community.
According to James, another event focused on reconciliation in Norwood, “Walk the Wood,” will take place at 1:30 p.m. on March 28, beginning at Norwood Middle School.
For more information, visit the “A New Day in Norwood” Facebook page or email email@example.com.