ROME — The Rome NAACP and Rome Police Department hosted a joint event Wednesday that saw members of each organization hand out personal protective equipment while helping people register to vote and fill out census forms.
The community event took place in front of the Justice Center on James Street.
“It sends the message that the community is so important,” said Rome NAACP President Jacqueline Nelson.
Nelson said she and Rome police Chief Kevin Beach spoke several times over the last few weeks, looking for ways they could work together.
“We have a good working relationship,” Beach said.
Nelson originally had plans for speakers, but she said the idea was scrapped following concerns of possible crowd size.
State Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon was among those who stopped by the event Wednesday. She praised the two groups working together, saying the coordination moves the community in the right direction.
“If we can continue with these partnerships, it’s just a positive,” said Buttenschon, D-Marcy. “It’s a win for our communities.”
The Rome NAACP is in the process of establishing a focus group that is focused on inclusion and respect. This group – which includes Beach – expects to hold its first meeting next month.
Nelson also said the NAACP will meet virtually Friday with Rome’s Common Council about community issues.
The NAACP president said there has been a history of racial tension in Rome. In the past, people have just ignored it and hoped it went away, she said.
“We have to have that discussion,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be uncomfortable, but it needs to be done.”