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Commission hears from Latinos

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hispanics want to be an accepted part of the Rocky Mount community.

That was the message from a group of local Latinos to the city's Human Relations Commission on Wednesday during the commission's monthly meeting.

"Many Hispanics are afraid to speak with police," said Juan Perez, a local convenience store owner. He said some members of the local Latino community are abused and taken advantage of by opportunists who know they are scared to go to law enforcement.

"If we are to live in Rocky Mount, we need to learn how to talk to police," Perez.

Many Hispanics have been in the same spot for 20 years but still feel like they don't fit into the larger community, said Maria Raymundo of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

"We are part of it, but we don't feel a part of it," she said. "We want to be part of it."

The speakers agreed many Hispanics live in fear of deportation when driving around the city.

Police Lt. Don Moseley said the police department isn't concerned with someone's immigration status.

"We have little contact with ICE," Moseley said, referring to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When it comes to driving, the police department wants safe cars, safe drivers and accountability, Moseley said.

Commission member Curmilus Dancy said regardless of any traffic offense, the driver should be treated respectfully.

"Respect is one of our core values," Moseley said.

Offering suggestions that would help Latinos feel welcomed, commission member Steve Stevenson said a soccer tournament involving several communities is in order.

Commission member Nehemiah Smith, who greeted the guests in Spanish, said a Hispanic citizens academy would help local Latinos learn about the city. He also said he'd like to just hang out with someone and learn more Spanish.

"We expect you to speak English, we should learn Spanish," Smith said.

At the tailend of the hour-long meeting, Dancy set up his camera to record his comments. He began to read a statement concerning Co-Chairwoman Mary Wells' recent comments to the Telegram about Dancy being appointed to the commission while not meeting the city residency requirements.

Stevenson made a point of order, saying any such discussion should take place in closed session.

"I am not going to let you take bits and pieces of your camerawork and turn it into an attack on your website against anyone in this room including myself," Stevenson said. "You're a member of this commission until the council decides to remove you."

Co-Chairman Linwood Williams told Dancy to settle any personal issues he has with fellow commissioners outside of commission meetings. Williams then closed the meeting.

Dancy has a long history on his Facebook page of using racially-charged rhetoric and derogatory language including slurs such as "Special C" for white people and "Safe Negro" for black people with whom he disagrees. He sometimes mentions that he works for Honeywell on his Facebook page.

Honeywell requires all employees to abide by the company's Code of Conduct and internal policies on the use of social media, said Steve Brecken, director of external communications for Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix.

"While we encourage all employees to act responsibly in their social postings, we do not monitor personal social media accounts or interactions," Brecken said. "Mr. Dancy does not speak for Honeywell nor do his postings reflect the culture we strive to achieve."

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