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Heard On Sundial: Fort Lauderdale’s Police Budget, MIT's Black Student President, Faith & Racism

Carl Juste
Fr. Reginald Jean Mary at Notre Dame d Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti.

On this Wednesday, June 10, episode of Sundial:

Fort Lauderdale Mayor On Defunding Police

More details have emerged about the demonstrations that turned violent in Ft. Lauderdale over a week ago. A new video on social media captures when Latoya Ratlieff was shot in the head by a foam rubber bullet, which fractured her skull. She’s now considering filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Another officer, Steven Poherence pushed a kneeling woman to the ground. He has since been suspended and is facing an internal investigation. 

“You have to understand that the most important function for every government is to protect its people,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis in response to why a third of the city’s budget is going to the police department. “You’re going to hear a lot of people talking about dismantling the police, but that is never going to be on the table. We are not taking protection away from people.”

We spoke with Trantalis about the protests and police funding. 

MIT’s Black College Student President on Protests

Danielle Geathers is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s first black woman student body president. She grew up in Miami and she’s currently studying mechanical engineering in her junior year. She believes this national moment is an opportunity for change. 

Geathers has never been one to shy away from controversy. When she was a student at Miami Country Day School she wrote an op-ed challenging the administration’s stance on kneeling for the national anthem.

“I was shocked and disappointed with our high school’s administration,” said Geathers. “Before that point, I had times where I didn’t feel included, but I felt like it was coming from other students rather than the institution of our high school. That was the first time I was like 'Oh wow, I didn’t know they felt this way about us and that they were comfortable projecting this,' so I really felt compelled to speak up.”

We spoke with Geathers about black representation in leadership positions in higher education and the message she’s advocating in the midst of national protests against police brutality and racism following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Faith Leaders On The Pandemic And Racism

Some churches, synagogues and mosques have reopened their doors over the past few weeks as South Florida continues to relax its social distancing measures. Faith leaders join us to talk about what prayer and worship look like during a pandemic and what conversations they’re having with their congregations about racism and police brutality.

“It’s something that we have experienced," said Father Reginald Jean-Mary, from Notre Dame Catholic Church in Little Haiti, about police violence in his community. "It really hurts us to see one of our brothers going down."

We spoke with Father Jean-Mary and Dr. Khalid Minhas about looking to their faiths to understand the social unrest in the country right now.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.