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Sheriff Eric Scheffler, local community leaders and Avanzar meet for a forum on racial healing

Pictured from left are Md Abdul Jamil, Suhel Ahmed, Dharmendra Patel, Robert Laws, Imam Umar Salahuddin, Avanzar Director of Social Justice Deborah Hamani, Sheriff Eric Scheffler, Asad Chaudley, Atlantic City Councilman Muhammad Anjum Zia, Pastor Rosalio Pagoada, Dr. Pedro Santana, Atlantic City police Officer Huan Le, Officer Sayed Shah and Chaplain Louis Strugala.

Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office / Provided

Law enforcement, local community leaders and officials from Avanzar met Wednesday for a forum on racial healing in Atlantic County.

County Sheriff Eric Scheffler, along with leaders from the Pakistani, Bangladesh, African American, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Indian, white and law enforcement communities “discussed the importance of not allowing people to divide races through hate and fear and were committed to bringing everyone together as one,” according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

The forum focused on how law enforcement can help bridge the gap and heal relationships between law enforcement and communities of diverse ethnicities, according to the release.

During the meeting, which lasted over an hour, each participant spoke about their culture’s ideals and beliefs, officials said. “You are not responsible for the cut if someone injures you; but your body takes on the responsibility to heal the wound,” Deborah Hamani, director of social justice for Avanzar, told the participants. All participants agreed that to move forward, people must heal themselves first, according to the release. “When diverse groups like this one assemble to communicate, we are truly able to bring healing and unity to our communities,” Scheffler said.

The group committed to hold several additional meetings prior to the National Day of Racial Healing on Jan. 19, according to the release. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation will host the event for the fifth consecutive year. Avanzar, the sheriff and community leaders believe that healing is the process of restoration and must be the starting point to truly improve race relations and transformation, officials said. Officials encouraged everyone in the community to sign Avanzar’s petition for a New Jersey Day of Racial Healing at to join the National Day of Racial Healing event that will be held remotely. For more information, visit Contact: 609-272-7241

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