Monday, July 22, 2024

There’s little doubt what’s driving “Civil Rights: Policing, Discretion and Race in Cambridge,” a forum planned for Thursday by the Men of Color Task Force, the Cambridge branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Massasoit Elks Lodge 126.

The July 16 arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. became nationwide news when President Barack Obama, responding to a reporter’s question, said police “acted stupidly” in arresting the Harvard professor for disorderly conduct at his own home. “What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,” Obama said. “That’s just a fact.”

The Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association said the actions of the arresting officer were consistent with police training, policies and applicable legal standards.

Although the charges were dropped, the city’s Police Review and Advisory Board is looking into the incident and a 12-member police review committee created by Police Commissioner Robert Haas and City Manager Robert Healy is acting to answer such questions as “How do race, class and interpersonal conflict have an impact on engaging with the public?”

The Thursday forum has a similar goal, according to a press release:

The goal of this community conversation is to explore the issue of civil rights and the state of policing, discretion and race in the city. The Men of Color Task Force is the catalyst for this community conversation. Confirmed panelists are Perry Anderson, former Cambridge Police commissioner; Adrian Walker, columnist at the Boston Globe; Howard Manly, editor of the Bay State Banner; Irene Monroe, writer/activist; Iman Firmin, hip-hop artist; and Deborah Ramirez, executive director for prevention and community safety at Northeastern School of Law.

The event is to be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the St. Paul A.M.E. Christian Life Center, 85 Bishop Allen Drive.

For information, call Richard Harding at (617) 665-3769 or e-mail him by clicking here.