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Prince George’s County is a place of contrasts; it’s the wealthiest majority African American county in the nation, yet long-running tensions between police and minorities led one journalist to dub the county “Washington’s Ferguson Next Door.”

Many also point to a class divide within the county, where issues of police brutality resonate more strongly inside the Beltway than in the outer suburbs. And while many say relations between police and citizens are better today than in the past, the national conversation around race, justice, and opportunity remains at the fore in Prince George’s County.

This evening, Nov. 17th, we are hosting a town hall-style discussion in Prince George’s County where we hope to hear from the community about issues that matter to them.

Joining Kojo to help launch the conversation will be five facilitators whose work focuses on Prince George’s County and who can address specific issues for the county.

Maryland State Delegate Alonzo Washington has proposed a number of police reform bills in the General Assembly;
Larry Stafford with Progressive Maryland, a social justice organization that is helping train and coordinate activists and channel the energy of the Black Lives Matter movement to spur change in Maryland; Tonia Wellons, who created the Prince George’s Social Innovation Fund to help network some of the talent in the county to address economic challenges. We also expect two law enforcement representatives to address the public’s concerns: Prince George’s Sheriff Melvin High, and Major Raymond Gordon of the Prince George’s Police Department.

But above all, this is a community discussion, and the experts are those of you who join us for this event. We’ve invited the public to join this conversation, as well as those involved in discussions about race, justice and economic opportunity in our region, including activists with Black Lives Matter DMV, Train the Movement, Stop Police Terror DC, the Prince George’s People’s Coalition, and students and faculty at the University of Maryland and Prince George’s Community College who have been organizing to address racism on campus.

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“Part of the reason why I founded this place was that I wanted a space that feels like home away from home, a space that represents the multi-cultural, multi ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-age aspects of the city, a space that represents the city that I live in – Washington, DC.” – Andy Shallal