Town hall meetings to delve into racial tensions, immigration, crime |

Town hall meetings to delve into racial tensions, immigration, crime

April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” As America celebrates its independence, Catholic Charities hopes to increase dialogue between the valley’s Anglos and Latinos.

Catholic Charities hosts two town hall meetings over the July 4 holiday week. The first community meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m. today at St. Vincent’s Church, 250 Midland Ave., Basalt. A second town hall is at 8 p.m. Tuesday at St. Stephen’s Church, 1885 Blake Ave., Glenwood Springs. The public is welcome.

“It’s going to be an open forum,” said Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities Western Slope in Glenwood Springs. “It will be an open discussion ” we want people to talk. There’s some potential to start dialogue.”

Ziemann pointed to last week’s murder in West Glenwood and the shooting at a 7-Eleven in Basalt ” both cases involving Latinos ” as indicators public discussion may be needed in the valley.

“One of the things I want to talk about is that it’s OK to talk to the police,” he said. “I want Latinos to know the law enforcement aren’t going to arrest them just because they report a crime. And the Latino community needs help, too, weeding out the bad actors out there. It’s a difficult situation.”

Ziemann also noted last week’s failed immigration bill in Congress as a topic for public discussion.

“I just wanted to so some consciousness raising,” Ziemann said. “These will be bilingual meetings and we’ll just have some discussions from both sides. We want people to talk. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not.”

The town halls serve as vehicles to reduce tension and approach community concerns, especially around the July 4 holiday, Ziemann said.

“People need to be careful over the holidays, and we realize there are some tensions out there,” he said. “Both communities need to be watchful.”

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