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Ventura County social justice organizations hold forum on racial justice, reform with Sheriff’s Office

Ventura County Forum

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. -- Amid growing calls for more police oversight, a group of social justice organizations met with Ventura County organizations Thursday night to get the conversation started.

Students, black community leaders and law enforcement met virtually for a conversation on race and policing.

Community members were invited to voice their perspectives, concerns and fears about policing in the wake of George Floyd's murder and Black Lives Matter protests locally and nationwide.

"My hope was that tonight — that it would be the beginning of bringing us together to come to understanding and get closer to understanding."

Maxwell Myers, 19, was among the speakers. He made headlines last month when three people were caught on camera vandalizing the Black Lives Matter sign he had hung up outside his home in Thousand Oaks.

A Ventura County Sheriff's Office employee and District Attorney's Office employee were among those arrested.

"All three of them were cited with misdemeanor vandalism. And that's three of the at least eight people who came by and felt it necessary to cut, tear, spray paint my sign over the course of a month," Myers said.

Activists also brought up "the talk", a conversation Black parents have with their children on how to interact with police.

"That burden of having the talk should be shared with white parents also," Matt Bodden, BLM activist said. "I encourage all of our white parents and all of those parents of ethnicities that aren't black to have that talk with their children. And that talk should be the talk of recognizing that racism is real — that it still exists — and it's wrong."

Those working in law enforcement said there is still a lot to be done.

"No agency is perfect and we're all compromised of human beings who are not perfect," Ventura County Sheriff's Commander James Fryhoff said. "We strive to be and have procedures in place to hold accountable those who do not uphold their oath."

The group plans to have more meetings moving forward. But nothing is on the calendar yet.

Article Topic Follows: Ventura County

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