Strong Turnout in Manchester for Diversity Listening Session

Aug 16, 2018

Governor Sununu's Council on Diversity and Inclusion held its fifth listening session in Manchester Wednesday night.


About a hundred people participated in the forum, which has the goal of gathering feedback on how the state can become more welcoming for people of all backgrounds.


Sitting around folding tables at Brookside Congregational Church, attendees spoke of their personal experiences.


Cosme Neles said he's concerned about how immigrants see the Granite State.


"Many people from other states, like Massachusetts, immigrants, they don't want to come in New Hampshire,” Neles said. “Because they say the police they stop [them] for nothing."


Neles says he's seen several instances of police officers turning over people to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


Several at the listening session voiced concerns the forums wouldn't amount to policy change. After the meeting concluded though, Neles said he had a productive conversation with a fellow participant: A Major with the State Police.


Conversations also centered around bringing more minority representation to the public education system in the state and how to expand services for disabled residents.


After an unrelated meeting on workforce diversity took place in the Queen City last month, organizers and attendees saw local and national backlash. Some on the Governor’s Diversity Council hoped the negativity surrounding the workforce event would not affect turnout Wednesday night.


But maybe unsurprisingly for the state’s largest city, the turnout for the Manchester listening session was one of the strongest yet.


“You gotta realize that this is going to make people uncomfortable,” said Diversity Council Chair Rogers Johnson. “Having said that, we’re still going to go down this road because it’s in everybody’s best interest to do so.”