Prince William County commission hears from community on racial, social justice

A Prince William County, Virginia, commission tasked with taking a closer look at county policies regarding race and social issues and reporting back to the board of supervisors held another listening session with community members Thursday evening.

From calls for more police involvement with young people to schools helping children from minority communities improve in school, the Racial and Social Justice Commission got input from residents on various topics.

Rabbi Lizz Goldstein, of the Congregation Ner Shalom synagogue, said including Jewish holidays on the school calendar is a step in the right direction, but she believes schools can do more to be more inclusive for Jewish students.

“If your spring basket has bunnies and eggs, that’s very associated with Easter. Our spring baskets would have matza in them,” Goldstein said.

Carlos Castro, the owner of Todos Supermarkets, urged the police department to connect more with young people in the community.

“That might be an attraction for minorities to join the police when they actually know how it works,” Castro said.

He also called on the county to take more steps to help students from minority communities who have fallen behind in school by setting up mentoring programs for those who may be struggling.

“It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged when you don’t understand what’s going on,” Castro said.

Also, during the discussion, Frank Washington, with the Coalition to Save Historic Thoroughfare, called on the county to do more to protect historically Black communities and cemeteries.

His comments come after a cemetery in Thoroughfare, founded by enslaved Americans who were freed and Native Americans, was destroyed, and another is threatened by proposed development.

“My great grandparents on this property; they worked this land; they treasured that land. And now it is being torn away from us, without any resolve,” Washington said.

After collecting community input and reviewing county policies, the commission will deliver its recommendations to the board of supervisors in December.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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