South Florida shares thoughts about they want president to say at town hall

Local 10 News hears from residents, law enforcement ahead of ABC event

MIAMI – President Barack Obama is scheduled to lead a town hall conversation on policing and race relations Thursday evening for a nation universally hurting, but from individual perceptions.

Expectations from South Floridians reflect the varying perspectives.

"I would like to see the federal, state and local governments prioritize public safety once again," said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association.

He, like other law enforcers, hope the president will fund programs that build bridges between the police and the communities they serve.

"I'd like to see some more federal funding for police and community programs in order to bridge the gap between our communities and police," South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa said.

The wish list was similar for Robert Fortich, president of the Hispanic Police Officers Association, who said he would advocate programs that would unite citizens with first responders.

Jesse Cosme spoke for the Black Lives Matter Alliance in Broward County.

"I hope today in this conversation we can get to the root of the pain caused by white supremacy, patriarchy capital over human life," he said.

The attorney for Jermaine McBean, a black man who was fatally shot by Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Peter Peraza, who is now charged with manslaughter, sent a video message suggesting ways to bridge misunderstandings among different races and cultures.

"I hope everyone comes away with a renewed sense of committing to reexamining every stereotype we all carry around and coming together," attorney David Schoen said.

Here is a sampling of South Florida's different voices with common themes:

Edgar Pieters, Miami: "The President needs to let the people know that there is only one race in this world, and that's the human race."

Jahlanny Morrobel-Pena, eighth-grade honor student: "I'd like to see more programs where students like me and officers interact and start better relationships."

Matthew Greenwood, 13, also an honor student and police officer's son: "I feel like our law enforcement deserves more respect and more protection for sure."

Shanice Felix of Miami said she is optimistic she will hear a positive message from Obama.

"How the community and the police can work together to prevent more from happening," she said.

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