Community forum sparks conversations and next steps on violence and safety
The Riverton Peace Mission held a public forum on the topic of community violence and safety on April 28 at Wyoming Indian High School. In attendance were individuals, teachers and tribal members representing various groups, organizations and programs, including Lander Councilman Chris Hulme.
Guest speakers included House District 45 Rep. Karlee Provenza, House District 33 Rep. Andi LeBeau, Rosa Salamanca, Conciliation Specialist with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Department , and Stephen Carpenter, Indigenous organizer for the Riverton Peace Mission.
Rep. Karlee Provenza told the audience the story of the November 2018 shooting of Robbie Ramirez. “At the time, we didn’t know all the facts,” she said, “but we knew there was a culture of not discussing these things or getting transparency from them. from our local managers on how something like this is handled.”
The Ramirez case caused the community to come together with Provenza and form Albany County for good policing (ACoPP), defined as “a group of concerned Albany County residents demanding transparency, accountability, and community oversight of elected officials and law enforcement.”
With a doctorate. in experimental psychology and law, Provenza researches police misconduct and jury decision-making. ACoPP provided means to gather facts, file requests for documents, collect petition signatures, and hold community forums.
“We opened it up to the community,” Provenza said. “What reforms do you want to see? What things have you experienced with law enforcement that bothered you? What is important to you about how our law enforcement serves our community? »
Representative Andi LeBeau recounted her recent experiences regarding the death threat made against her during the 2022 legislative session, as well as her advocacy and support with the Andy Antelope Case.
“Society these days is so political,” LeBeau said. “But at the end of the day, we are all human. Our customs and our way are to love and respect each other; that’s what our elders say. We have enough violence as it is.
Rosa Salamanca said the Justice Department’s role is to help communities open up communication when there are concerns about discrimination, hateful activity, or “encountering barriers to access officials or services.” public,” she said.
Salamanca cited Riverton Peace Mission’s Marketplace Equity as an example of a group that formed after the shooting of Andy Antelope. “Because there were merchants involved and kind of pushing back the Native American homeless, the thought was, ‘How can we start working with commerce in a way that helps change the relationship around this? ‘” Salamanca said.
The Marketplace Equity group began working with the Chamber of Commerce, started talking about training available to traders, and launched a website where people could submit any experiences or encounters of discrimination in the purchase of goods or Services. “Conversely, if traders also had problems, a website was set up for them to access and report the difficulties they were having.”
Salamanca and Chesie Lee of the Riverton Peace Mission facilitated a 15 minute session where participants were divided into groups and asked to discuss and write down what they considered to be key issues and concerns. “What are the next steps you would like to see taken in the community to address issues of violence and safety in the community? »
“That was my request,” LeBeau said, “to start having conversations about community safety, how we deal with violence, and what we can do to find solutions to keep our community safe. , but above all to protect our friends and family. , moving forward, and how we do it together.