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Montgomery County Police and Watkins Mill Football Players Talk Race and Perspectives

Their message to the community is they’re not just taking a knee without taking action which is why football players from Watkins Mill High School hosted “Dinner and Discussion” with the Montgomery County Police Department in the school’s media center Thursday night.

“I think it’s important so the kids, the football players involved, and some of our student athletes that were involved in the protest get to hear the police perspective and maybe have some questions answered that they have,” said Watkins Mill High School athletic director Reggie Spears.

This discussion is a direct result of some members taking a knee before their Friday night football games. It created a lot of discussion in the community and at a recent Youth Town Hall meeting in Rockville, Watkins Mill football player Brian McNeary explained why they participated in a silent protest.

Since their reasoning stems from the recent shootings of African-Americans by police officers, the Montgomery County Police Department thought a conversation with the student athletes was important.

“This gave everybody the opportunity to have a real conversation, not a tweet, not a snap, but an actual way for people to share their experiences and perspectives,” said Commander Dinesh Patil, of the Sixth District Police Station

The players in attendance, who were mostly African-American and Latino, expressed their concerns with the police and how they felt they were often times stopped and pulled over because of the color of their skin.

Police officers, likewise, discussed their experiences while policing. One thing officers expressed to the students is how when they get a call, they never know the situation at hand until they arrive on the scene.

Both students and officers agreed that the discussion was necessary to have and they hope they can keep it moving forward.

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“I got a lot of perspective from different police officers and different situations that people have been through,” said Watkins Mill football player Steven Mendez. “It’s really good to see the way the police officers view things and how we do things. It makes a better connection.”

“It’s important to not to lose momentum and just put something on the calendar even if we just do this again,” said Patil.

Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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