Elected Officials Share Opinions at The Broward Youth Empowerment Kick-Back

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By Armaan Rajwany

Youth from the city of Tamarac were given the opportunity to converse with their elected officials at The Broward Youth Empowerment Kick-Back on Friday, July 10.

The town hall, which aired on Facebook Live, began with a polite introduction by youth moderator Varrol Bailey.

Bailey, who is a legislative aide to the Florida House of Representatives, concluded his opening remarks with a prayer and moment of silence for the people whose lives were taken by unjust killings.

The panelists for the event were: House District 95 State Representative Anika T. Omphroy, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson, Tamarac Commissioner Mike Gelin and State Attorney Candidate Harold Pryor.

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There was no explanation of why a sheriff from Osceola County participated and not a local law enforcement officer. We reached out to State Representative Anika T. Omphroy, and they have not answered our request.

Pryor began the conversation by explaining what he believes he can contribute to the fight for racial equity. Pryor said that as a State Attorney, he is obligated to enforce policies to hold the police responsible if and when they do wrong.

The discussion shifted towards what role each official plays in their community, Commissioner Gelin spoke about his ability to better his district of 20,000 citizens as a policy creator. Gelin mentioned that he had proposed a civilian review board to go alongside with civilian citations. The commissioner also passed an ordinance program for both small and local businesses and a veteran’s business preference program.

During an exchange about law enforcement authority, Sheriff Gibson described his passion for serving the 6,500- 7,000 residing in his county before COVID-19. Gibson was also open-minded to ideas about police reform for the protection of every person, citizen or not, his badge grants jurisdiction over, “I want to be the trendsetter not just for the state of Florida but for the entire United States, to show that this is the model of how we should be handling [defunding the police.]”

As the town hall began to cover the current state of COVID-19 in Florida, State Representative Omphroy highlighted the importance of wearing a mask during the global pandemic.

“The same way you navigate through blocking people out of our mind to achieve your goals is the same way we are going to have to start blocking people out of our space.”

Representative Omphroy went as far as calling those who are not choosing to keep a safe social distance, “walking murderers.”

The town hall concluded with each panelist extending their thank you’s for the opportunity to share their opinions and be educated by each other.

Armaan Rajwany, 16, is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He lives in Wyndham Lakes in Coral Springs.

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