Attendees discuss unity, cultural differences at town hall meeting |

Attendees discuss unity, cultural differences at town hall meeting

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. About 20 people stood up and shared messages of unity, racial harmony and hope.”The strength of the United States is that ultimately we are all American,” one man said.There were at least 40 in the crowd at Tuesday night’s town hall meeting at St. Stephen’s Church. People talked about their own experiences with cultural differences and offered insights into learning about them and accepting them.It’s very important for people to remember that every culture has a certain element of crime but most people in all cultures are hardworking and good at heart, several people said.”I can’t judge him, her, or all of you,” a man who identified himself as Alex said. “I breathe the same air. I love the same God.”He said he works with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office in programs to prevent crime.”For me it’s important just to help people whether they’re Hispanic, Caucasian or from any other part of the world,” he said.One woman said she lives downtown in a 100-year-old house. Many of her neighbors are families that have lived there forever and a lot of newcomers are Hispanic. She said they’re very good neighbors. When they first started moving in, there were some instances of loud music, cars revving their engines and speeding through neighborhoods. But she appreciates that they learned neighbors didn’t like it and changed their behavior.Another man said he understands it’s difficult for people to have patience with Hispanics who don’t speak English well yet. He said he hopes people would understand that the majority of Hispanics are here because of economic necessity – they’re lower class – and the majority of them didn’t go to school, but they’re learning.A man named Roberto from Mexico City said he and his family love to be here.”But we know there are some problems,” he said. “There are a lot of Hispanics that don’t speak English, but we want to teach them, to prepare them. We want to work together with you.”The meeting had been called by Tom Ziemann of Catholic Charities in light of some recent news events involving Latinos. He said the turnout was greater than Monday night’s meeting in Basalt. After nearly 112 hours of individuals’ comments, Ziemann attempted to bring the meeting to a close. He wanted to read from his prepared comments, but one man announced he had something more to say, causing laughter and smiles to work through the crowd.Ziemann eventually finished by saying that it’s alright to report crimes to police. Undocumented immigrants shouldn’t fear that customs issues will come up in reporting crimes.”If you see or hear about some illegal behavior going on, it’s OK to talk to police about it,” he said. “They’re not going to turn you over to immigration.”Ziemann also said although a recent immigration bill has been defeated, people should not give up.”Don’t give up hope,” he said. “You need to continue to work hard, pay your taxes, stay out of trouble.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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