Restoring Trust After Teenager Assaulted in Tamarac
Dear Community Members
Compassion, honesty, accountability, and, most of all, trust is all at stake for us in Broward County in the wake of the recent assault on 15-year-old Delucca “Lucca” Rolle by Broward Sheriff’s deputies.
We, as a community, must take on the hard topics surrounding the issue of violence in all its forms in order to safeguard our way of life.
Violence of any kind is tragic and can’t be tolerated. But the pain cuts even deeper when the harm comes at the hands of law enforcement entrusted to protect our community with dignity and respect.
And so, Urban League of Broward County stands with community members as we embrace a critical opportunity to confront the trust that was damaged on April 18 in Tamarac. That was when Delucca, a teenager, was pepper-sprayed in the face and slammed to the ground outside a McDonald’s after J.P. Taravella High School let out for the day.
Sheriff Gregory Tony did the right thing in suspending two deputies involved in the attack. He’s promised a thorough investigation. And he must share the results timely and transparently.
Broward Attorney General, Mike Satz did the right thing in opening an investigation related to the assault. The community demands and deserves a thorough investigation and a decision on the assault.
As we wait, the Urban League is working on restoring trust.
On April 27th, law enforcement, community representatives, youth, parents, and other leaders gathered during the Justice Project’s annual community forum. This year’s theme, titled Operation: Breaking Barriers, was an initiative to gain collective and mutual understanding of one another, build bridges and strengthen our community. At the event, the attendees divided into groups, known as peace circles, to challenge their biases, answer a series of important questions and develop actionable strategies for the community to act upon:
- What does accountability look like from the perspective of a parent, a youth, or a law enforcement officer?
- What does restoring trust and healing look and feel like?
- How do we make progress in a way that doesn’t leave members of the community silently grappling with unaddressed and inconvenient truths?
Afterward, the circles shared their recommendations, including the following:
- Launch ongoing restorative justice peace circles with youth, parents, community leaders and law enforcement throughout Broward County and in our schools.
- Expand mentorship opportunities between youth and law enforcement officers.
- Build a culture within law enforcement that elevates the values of empathy, listening and mutual respect to improve cultural sensitivity.
All of this is encouraging, but leadership needs to be bold and courageous at a time when polarizing political and social views continue to divide our society. This shift requires an ongoing dialogue with compassion, honesty, accountability, and trust. The Urban League of Broward County will continue to be a leading advocate for positive social change and protecting our most vulnerable communities.
The community, including adults, youth and law enforcement, will move forward.
We will make progress.
Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D
President and CEO of Urban League of Broward County.