We’ve got a race problem in Hometown USA. A recent Verona Press issue ran a story that the arrest rate for blacks in Verona was 12 times that of non-blacks.

12 times. Let that sink in for a bit.

I find it hard to believe that blacks are committing 12 times more crimes than all other groups of people. Why is this so? Is driving while black considered a cause to pull over and search a car?

Last year I wrote Mayor Diaz about this exact issue. It bothered me that in my travels around town, it seemed people of color were always stopped by Verona police. I wanted to know if what I was seeing was right or if I just happened to notice something that was a coincidence. Turns out I wasn’t imagining. What I was seeing was part of that 12 times discrepancy.

Our nation is in the midst of racial and economic strife, the likes most have not seen in a long time. Black people are tired of being killed by police at a rate 5 times that of non-whites. Black people are imprisoned at staggering rates, most for drug related offenses. Drug laws put in place to warehouse our black population in prisons.

Prisons that are often privately owned and cost taxpayers $60,000 a year to house a black person. It’s a business.

Our black people were brought here as slaves and now we punish them again by locking them up in jail. Verona is playing its part by arresting them at a rate 12 times that. I keep repeating this number, because I can’t fathom it. As a white person that has lived in Verona for over 30 years, it saddens and sickens me that this is occurring.

Our systemic racism has to end. It’s tearing apart our country and it’s just wrong.

I hope that our city leaders continue to address this issue. It’s not going away. Thank you for publishing this. We’ve all got a lot of work to do in solving this.

And to those that don’t think it is a problem, just remember this: 12 times.

Tim Melin

City of Verona