‘I’m sorry for being emotional’: Middletown officials speak on protests, community impact

Members of Middletown City Council spoke about their concerns and sadness over the unrest that has occurred for more than a week following the death of an unarmed, handcuffed Minnesota man at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Middletown’s council was among the first Butler County legislative authorities who weighed in on the death of George Floyd as well as on the protests happening in southwest Ohio and the topic of racism that remains in the community.

Councilwoman Ami Vitori became emotional talking about the issue as she presented council a resolution adopted Monday by a Maryland city “in defense of Black lives and a commitment to enacting policies that unequivocally defend Black life and undo the effects of systemic racism attacking Black people in the City of Hyattsville.”

Vitori said her “heart is heavy from the events of the past weekend.” As she spoke, she broke down several times, before regaining her composure. She passed out a copy of the Maryland resolution that she received from a colleague, and asked council to consider passing a version of this for Middletown and comment back to the acting city manager as something they could consider.

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“I think that this can be a starting point of conversations and actions,” she said. “I’m sorry for being emotional but this has been a difficult week for many people. I hope this is a beginning of a new framework for all of our communities.”

Vice Mayor Joe Mulligan said he shared in the “sadness and disappointment” of the events that has happened in Minnesota.

“Obviously those don’t reflect the best of any police department,those actions. It really has opened a deep wound in America,” he said. “I’m hopeful and prayerful that Middletown can be part of the solution. If we can do that, it would be a great step forward.”

He said it is about building trust across racial and economic divides and believes Middletown can do that.

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Councilwoman Talbott Moon also became emotional noting the recent events and protests concerning the tragic death of George Floyd across the nation struck closer to home for him as he has some close family members who are African American.

“Knowing that they have to have conversations with their children that I won’t have to have with my white children is just unacceptable,” Moon said. “As a Christian, I believe that we are all made in the image of God and are deserving of the respect that comes with that.

“We have to accept that racism is real and it’s in the community,” he said. “We all need to examine our hearts and minds and the things that we harbor in ourselves, some of which may be an unconscious bias.”

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Councilwoman Monica Nenni said until our neighbors in the community in the black community are given liberty and justice that their white counterparts receive without conditions, the protests across America and around the globe will continue.

Nenni said she was flooded with emotions over the weekend seeing peaceful protests evolve into looting and destruction in her former Over the Rhine neighborhood and her fellow small business owners.

“My white privilege has protected me and until more white people can admit this, nothing will change,” she said. “This doesn’t mean violence in the answer, it is never the answer and that is the point.”

She said everyone can make Middletown a better place.

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Mayor Nicole Condrey said everyone agrees that no one should be treated unjustly and that she looks forward to participating in more conversations and in the future. She said there is a big difference between reacting and responding to a situation. Condrey encouraged people to be responsive rather than being reactive and open communication is the key.

She also praised the community outreach efforts by Middletown police despite being short staffed.

Council also heard from Pastor Ruth Kelly, president of the Middletown Ministerial Association. Kelly said the local ministers have worked with Middletown police in the past to better hiring practices and look at how we police here. She said its great to hear what police are doing in the community.

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“We need to continue to have justice that needs to take place in our city. We can’t have peace if there is hostility and that’s what I want our young people to understand and those that are forming some of the riots that’s taking place,” she said. “There are so many toxins of racism that takes place in the country. We cant have that if we’re going to have progress in our city.

Kelly said there is “an opportunity to make change and have a progressive dialog.”

Council also received an community-oriented policing update from police Chief David Birk.

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