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Local College Students Address Local Policing, Racial Systemic Change

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) - Local college students are working to address race and law enforcement issues in Tampa Bay. Students at USFSP held a forum Tuesday afternoon to open up a dialogue aimed at helping create greater trust between local police and minority communities.

Destiny Gomez is nearing the end of her undergrad studies at USF St. Petersburg. But before taking on her final year, she says she has some unfinished business.

"Having a dialogue between students, specifically students of color, and police," said Gomez. She and other members of the Racial Justice Fellows' Project at USFSP are putting students at the center of creating racial systemic change.

"This is something that I've always been very, very passionate about. I identify as an Afro-Latin x individual. Seeing specific situations in regards to policing and other people of color - not only here in St. Petersburg but across the country - has really sparked this interest for me," She says recent events, such as the murder of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers in 2020 tempted her to speak up. "My goal is to create the space to form an action plan. Because that's why they were developed. To be part of this community."

Thus, a community discussion was born. In attendance were city and campus police officers, Police Chief Anthony Holloway and campus staff and students.

"Starting this conversation is very hard… Um.. I think this is an emotionally charged conversation and it's bever really happened like this," she said. "We're going to approach each other as humans first with emotion. That's really important to me."

Ending on a note to keep that conversation going beyond campus lines.

"This isn't something new. In order to change that, we need to address it," she said.

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