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‘We're going to need your voice’ | Montgomery Co. leaders listen to youth on racial justice issues

The youth virtual town hall had included county officials, police chief, and county executive.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — County leaders got a look into the minds of Montgomery County teens in a virtual youth town hall Wednesday night. 

The conversations centered around public protests, social justice, and racial equity.

“This is an unprecedented time and while racism and institutional racism has always been with us," Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando said. "We have a moment like no other in human history where you see people around the globe, understanding that it's a problem, and wanting to address it in a systemic way. We’re going to need your help and we’re going to need your voice." 

Throughout the town hall, participants explained to officials their own experiences throughout the county.

RELATED: Youth protest calls for defunding police, toughening use-of-force policy

"Let's say I go and I walk into a store, it's just you sort of feel those eyes looking at you as you stroll through the store, as though you're being judged in a way,” one of the participants said. “It really doesn't make it any better that you know I have hair like this."

RELATED: Montgomery County Council declares racism a 'public health crisis'

Another student called for better de-escalation practices within schools, as well as having teachers be culturally aware of Black and brown students.

“Making sure that if there's a Black or brown kid who's speaking frustratingly to their teacher that they’re not disciplining that, but you're asking what's wrong, you're trying to figure out what's going on,” another participant said. “Instead of putting that student in a classroom and disciplining or suspending.”

Some of the county’s students also brought up policies to better involve the police with the community, such as having police recognize and work with youth programs and organizations throughout the community.

The police chief was listening and had a conversation with some of the participants.

Officials said they will take what they heard throughout the town hall and consider the county’s younger voices when making future decisions.

RELATED: Updates: Protests against police brutality and social injustice continue Tuesday

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