Due to the national regulations regarding the gatherings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop sessions were held online, using the Google Meet platform. The series of workshops was organized with a weekly frequency, for five weeks, starting with 22 October 2020, in the same interval (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
Each session was attended by representatives of the Association of Young Roma from Timișoara and of the Police Inspectorate of Timiș county. Collaboration agreements were signed with each of the organizations involved. Also, each organization nominated the representatived that attended the meetings.
The aim of the sessions was to improve participants’ skills in intercultural communication and critical thinking, as well as to stimulate reflections on how certain patterns of thinking and action absorbed in the culturalization process are reflected on the quality of interaction between community members, leading to formation of stereotypes, prejudices and discriminatory behaviors. Also, the workshops aimed at enhancing the awareness about Roma citizens’ rights and obligations, the need to empower young Roma for equal participation adn to mitigate the negative stereotypes about Roma culture and the persons from this ethnic group.
The participants showed a lot of openness to the proposed topics, being willing to share thematic examples from their own experience, as well as other people known to them (family members, friends, etc.).
The first meeting, held on October 22, 2020, was themed Mass-media: an imperfect mirror of reality. During this meeting, we addressed the ways in which mass-media depicts Roma people, the police profession and the interaction between Roma people and the police. The purpose of the workshop was to make it easier for participants to become aware of the impact of the media on social representations regarding Roma people and police employees, especially in what concerns the relation between the two groups.
The second meeting, held on October 29, 2020, addressed the topic of Stereotypes and their role in social interactions between various groups. Two main issues were discussed during this meeting: (1) Stereotypes of community members about Roma people and their effects on the social integration efforts of Roma people and (2) Stereotypes of community members (Roma persons included) about police / police officers and their effects on the relationship between the police and community members. The purpose of the workshop was to increase the level of understanding among participants about the impact of stereotypes that we assimilate in the process of culturalization, on the relationships we cultivate with members of our community.
The third meeting, held on November 5, 2020, was themed Cultural and social contributions. Within it, two main themes were explored: (1) The contribution of Roma culture in the Romanian society and (2) The contribution of the police to the functioning of the society. The purpose of this meeting was to stimulate reflection among participants on the specific contribution of the two groups studied (Roma and law enforcement personnel) to the cultural enrichment of society and, respectively, to its normal functioning.
The topic for the fourth meeting, held on 12 November 2020, was My parents, me, my child: Individual perspectives on differences between generations. The workshop addressed the topic of differences between generations, in order to explore participants’ perceptions of how society has evolved throughout our lives (as a result of political, economic, social, cultural and technological changes) and about the adaptation mechanisms needed to be activated in order to cope with these changes.
The fifth and last meeting, held on November 19, 2020, focused on Ways to improve the collaboration between Roma people and the police. During this workshop, a series of proposals and suggestions of the participants on the topic were discussed.
We list these suggestions below so that we can explore them in more detail in the near future and identify feasible ways to implement them:
– Designation of Roma police officers as contact persons for Roma communities within a locality; over time, these people could build trusting relationships with these communities, and community members would be more open to working with police representatives;
– Organizing and implementing education programs dedicated to increasing intercultural communication skills, among police employees;
– Organizing and implementing education programs dedicated to improving the level of information of Roma persons on citizens’ rights and responsibilities, as well as on the role of the police in ensuring their compliance;
– Information and presentation activities carried out by the police in schools attended by a large number of Roma children, in which police officers present to these children the mission and role of the Police, as well as the police career as a viable option for them; these activities can be organized on the occasion of special events – Police Day, Public Services Day, etc. – or within a specific, dedicated program;
– Participation of the police and Roma associations in joint actions, aimed at increasing the level of awareness of the Roma population about the role and mission of the police; in this regard, both organizations represented at the meeting expressed interest in establishing a future collaboration.