Canton city leaders, residents discuss ways to improve safety for those living in Hispanic community

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 11:12 PM CDT
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CANTON, Miss. (WLBT) - As Canton Mayor Dr. William Truly Jr. walked to the podium to begin his press conference on Tuesday, he was joined by concerned residents from the Hispanic community.

They expressed how they’re tired of being targeted and attacked in their own neighborhoods and now they want a safer environment to live in.

”I’m not blaming the mayor, I’m not blaming the chief, I’m not blaming myself, I’m not blaming Blacks, I’m blaming the whole community. Because it’s a whole community, the whole Canton community,” said Gloria Martinez, one of the concerned residents who attended the press conference.

Martinez said she’s fed up with the crimes. The latest one happened in a trailer park on Pace Street on Saturday morning. Residents said 41-year-old Emilio Garcia was robbed, shot and killed just as he was getting ready for work.

Truly said the city can’t do anything right now because that area is in the county.

However, beginning June 6, the mobile home park will be Canton’s jurisdiction as part of an annexation. Truly said he is actively searching for safety measures to put in place for Hispanic residents living there.

”I think that there needs to be more surveillance, whether that’s in the trailer, whether we need to put more lights out there, whether we need put robot policemen that you see at Walmart, whether we need to put some kind of a security out there that’s policing the place, all of that is on the table,” said Mayor Truly.

Along with these ideas, Truly also wants to add an additional 20 police officers to help patrol that area and the city. He said he doesn’t expect to have all 20 added at once, but he does have a particular preference in mind.

”We need to hire more police officers from the Hispanic community who understand the culture better, and who speaks the language more so,” said Truly. He believes this will lead to stronger relationships between Hispanics and city leaders.

“If you don’t understand each other’s language, and history, and culture, it makes it difficult to understand each other,” Truly explained.

Martinez said she supports the mayor’s ideas and believes this is a positive step toward improving safety.

”Hopefully this time with the community actually being involved we can actually get a change,” Martinez expressed. “That’s all we want, we want a change. A change for both of us, well let me rephrase that: A change for the entire community.”

City leaders and residents said they’re committed to finding solutions. In fact, Martinez and Truly are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon.

Then the Hispanic Task Force will meet Thursday in an effort to continue the dialogue on creatting change.

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