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‘The violence was a total disregard for human life’: City council speaks out against racism

During the City Council’s June 2 meeting, many Oxford community members spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Councilor Glenn Ellerbe hopes the community will take action whether it be through voting or protesting.

“The best way to protest is in November,” Ellerbe said. “I just hope that everybody remembers this, so that in November, when they want to hold an actual protest, they do it at the polls.”

Enjoy Oxford is organizing a vigil for Floyd in uptown park at 8 p.m., Monday, June 8.

Oxford Police Department (OPD) Chief John Jones said police-community relations is an ongoing effort. 

“It’s not simple,” Jones said. “Every traffic stop, every pedestrian stop that an officer makes or every interaction with a citizen, the officer has to balance the need to enforce the law and do it in a way that is congruent with what City Council has asked us to do and what state legislatures asked us to do.”

On June 1, Jones shared a statement via OPD’s Facebook page, condemning the violence against George Floyd while reiterating OPD’s values. 

City Manager Doug Elliott expressed pride in OPD’s community relations.

“I think it speaks volumes of our community and how we feel about this blatant racism we saw in Minnesota,” Elliott said. “I mean, Oxford does not condone racism in any form, and the violence was a total disregard for human life.”

Vice Mayor Bill Snavely called for compassionate and thoughtful leadership but said it was not likely the nation would receive any now, or in the near future. 

“The national issues will take a lot longer to resolve,” Snavely said. “I would like to publicly denounce the president’s unwarranted violent response to a peaceful protest last night, including tear gas in order to have his photo opportunity.”

Multiple community members, like Patrick Meade, spoke about the protests and offered support during the meeting. 

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“Our corner of the world has many of the same problems as the rest of the country has,” Meade said. “And we can choose to make those problems worse as some people seem to do. We can choose to bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine. Or we can face the injustices in our society, even those here locally and work to improve things for everybody in our community.” 

Later in the meeting, a resolution to call on the US Congress to pass funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) was passed unanimously by council. 

Community member Prue Dana read a statement created by the League of Women Voters in support of the resolution. The statement focused on mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election. 

In the statement, Dana called for more dropboxes for mail-in ballots and applications. She also advocated for early voting, online absentee ballots and prepaid postage.

“Living in a small town, we really need the postal service for communication,” Councilor Edna Southard said. “I think it’s essential to preserve our democracy, so people can vote by absentee ballot.”

Elliott shared with council that McCullough-Hyde Hospital has had 50 people test positive for the novel coronavirus. 

The next City Council meeting will be streamed on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16.