Manhattan city officials cite need for more conversations on diversity locally

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As concerns about racial equality continue to be raised nationally, high ranking Manhattan City officials admit more work must be done.

Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi cited one specific problem in policing. She noted a viral incident in New York’s Central Park showing Amy Cooper, a white woman, seen calling police on Chris Cooper, an African American man who approached her about her dog being off leash.

“She said (to police) an African American man is ready to assault me and my dog, but here was a very incidental thing where she used race and the police could’ve come and something bad really could’ve happened.  So that’s the dialog people are still wanting to have,” she said.

It’s not clear if that woman will face any charges of falsifying a report to police.

Locally, Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr says the city internally has been working on an organizational excellence initiative, which for the past year he says focuses on diversity and inclusion, with a committee that organizes activities and educational events.

“That kind of understanding can go a long way whether its a coworker, a family member, or support member, it’s certainly important to raise that dialog even higher,” he said.

Among the strategies outlined in that initiative are working with human resources to develop a diverse recruitment process. A survey found 54 percent of city employees believed the city organization to be diverse — 21 percent strongly agreed, 21 percent disagreed and 4 percent strongly disagreed.

Both Fehr and Mayor Reddi say last week’s events in Minnesota and the past two months during the health crisis have shined a light on the importance local government plays on policy development.

“It’s very critical to pay attention to individuals that are running and also to see really what we want our communities to be,” Reddi said.

Several protests are planned in Manhattan this week. One in Triangle Park was scheduled Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and another Wednesday evening at Manhattan City Park from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Brandon Peoples

KMAN News Director and host of In Focus. Contact Brandon at Brandon@1350KMAN.com

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