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Residents Give Varying Grades to Montgomery County Police for Race Relations at Germantown Town Hall

Residents and members of the Montgomery County Police Department stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the back and along the side of the large room at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown on Wednesday night, for an open and frank discussion of police and race relations in Montgomery County.

The meeting was the second meeting held in the County in response to police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, and the ambush killings of police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge and other locations in the country. The meeting was organized by Montgomery County Officer of Human Rights, with participation from Montgomery County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Faith Community Working Group, and the Police Department, with the full support of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission, the Committee on Hate Violence and the Black Minister’s Conference.

The event was the second Town Hall meeting on the topic; the first took place the night before in Silver Spring with more than 300 people in attendance.

“We are here tonight to make sure that we hear from our community about your concerns, about fears or other expressions that we have a chance to hear that first-hand from you in authentic voices,” James L. Stowe, Director of the Office of Human Rights, told the more than 400 people at the Germantown event.

The racially diverse audience heard County Executive Ike Leggett begin the evening with two diametrically opposed stories about police interaction. One was a story of an elderly gentleman he encountered lost and wandering around the County Administrative building in Rockville and the police officer who went above and beyond to make sure the gentleman found his car and returned home safely. The other of an officer who began yelling at screaming unknowingly at the County Executive for being on school property while he was placing election signs.