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Monday, January 30, 2023

During a Santa Fe College open forum held Wednesday night, local community leaders addressed issues of race relations, police-citizen relations, drug laws and mental illness.

Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston and Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell joined Santa Fe College Vice President of Student Affairs Naima Brown on a panel to discuss and answer questions from an audience of about 16, focusing mostly on racism.

The forum, organized and moderated by Santa Fe journalism student Lucas Jewell, was held to determine what Santa Fe can do to improve issues on campus.

Jewell asked panelists questions about race, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

During the panel, both Goston and Darnell focused on what they called a history of systemic racism in America.

"We have a lot of work to do to restore trust in the community and in the profession," Darnell said, referring to the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri.

Jewell brought up the introduction of body cameras to certain law enforcement agencies, but Darnell said she didn’t think it was a logical, or affordable, solution.

"It isn’t right to judge people by the uniform they wear or by the color of their skin," she said. "There is a person under the uniform, and we are flawed individuals, too."

Goston looked at the historical perspective.

"Black lives are historically considered less valuable," he said. "We’re on the precipice of disaster if we don’t get it together."

Contact Brooke Baitinger at and follow her on Twitter @BaitingerBrooke

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