On October 18, 2018, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill and Chief Deputy District Attorneys Don Rees and Kristen Snowden joined other leaders from law enforcement, civil society organizations and students at the Muslim Educational Trust for the third annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities event.
“I was once again honored and excited to listen, learn and contribute at this year’s program,” Underhill said. “This event continues to show our deeply-held commitment to the challenge of broadening our points of view, building a better and open-minded society, and strengthening the bonds we currently share.”
The Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities event was hosted by the Muslim Educational Trust, which was founded in 1993 in response to the community’s needs in the metro area. The Muslim Educational Trust is dedicated to the betterment of society and strives to achieve its purpose through education, cooperation, networking, and programs that benefit Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the region.
“It is very important that we are compassionate so we can love one another and respect one another,” said Wajdi Said, the president of the Muslim Educational Trust. “Justice does not need to trump mercy and mercy does not need to trump justice.”
Underhill described Thursday’s event as educational and thought provoking. By bringing the community together, participants examined the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in our community. Participants also worked collaboratively to identify ways to understand and to remove those differences.
“In 2016, we came together at a time of high contention in our community and country,” said Billy Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. “From that first meeting we emerged with a shared vision vision of a strong, safe and caring community.”
The 2018 summit challenged attendees to identify measurable results in their efforts to reduce bias and build trust among one another and the community.
“Informed and genuine conversations matter,” Williams said. “We must continue to talk with each other about what issues matter because relationships matter.”
Underhill noted that society and the criminal justice system continue to face a crossroad.
“In order to choose the best path forward, we must be mindful of the impact that our decisions have on those who look, think, worship, learn and live in a way that may be different than our own,” Underhill said.
Contact: Brent Weisberg, Communications Director