Rochester Issues Forum takes on Zimmerman/Martin


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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Each month a group gathers in southern Minnesota to discuss current topics from our area and around the world.

They are focusing on the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case. They are talking about what we have learned and where we can go from here.

“This is very important, especially being a very diverse community, you get to meet a lot of different people and learn a lot about cultural events,” said Gina Koss, a Student at Winona State University-Rochester.

She is one of a few dozen people attending this month’s Rochester Issues Forum.

They are talking about the Florida case that caused a national reaction this summer; the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case.

The Zimmerman case brought America almost to its knees, there was lots of division around who was right and who was wrong,” said Bob-e Simpson Epps, a conversation host.

The discussion is not about right or wrong, it is about keeping an open mind and hearing what others think about what happened.

“It’s not about can’t we just get along, it’s about recognizing and understanding we all have a world view, understanding how we came about that and being able to respect mine may be different from yours, but we can still work together on a common cause,” said Dave Ellis, a conversation host.

About three dozen people are taking part in small group discussions that are modeled like a kitchen table discussion over dinner. For Epps and Ellis, the number of people in attendance is not the main concern.

“Everything starts with some number, somewhere. Ten becomes one hundred, becomes one thousand, becomes ten thousand, becomes Rochester and that’s how I look at this. Nothing starts with everyone in the room,” Ellis said.

One of the people who will be spreading that message is Koss.

“It’s just really important for people to get out and just be culturally aware of their surroundings, especially here in this big town, we just have so many different cultures,” Koss said.

Ellis and Epps have been a part of conversations all over including in North Minneapolis. They hope that discussions like this will begin taking place in communities all over.

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