Letters to the Editor

Originally Published September 27, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate

I write to share my disappointment in how Lt. Richard Pedrini’s case was handled by the town leadership and my objection to his reinstatement to the Arlington Police Department.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine had difficult decisions to make about the consequences Pedrini should face for his racist diatribes published in the Massachusetts Police Association newsletter. Chapdelaine’s choices send terrible messages to Pedrini’s targets and to the entire town:

  • An outspoken racist is back on the force, and his targets are expected to believe that he has learned his lesson.
  • One police officer is more important than the people in the community he is supposed to serve and protect.
  • Racism is tolerated in the APD and by town leadership.
  • The concerns of and threats against marginalized people are not as important as saving the town money.
  • The restorative justice process can be used to protect those with power from the consequences of their abuse of that power.

Chapdelaine’s efforts to be pragmatic led him to do the wrong thing. The result of his efforts to protect Arlington from the financial cost of firing Pedrini, and his fear of losing in arbitration, mean we have an outspoken racist in the Arlington Police Department. We cannot call Arlington a welcoming town when town leadership reinstates a racist to the police department.

I attended the Select Board meeting on Sept. 9 where over 20 people shared their objections to how this case has been handled. There were many powerful statements, but one stood out in my mind. Elizabeth Dray reminded the select board about the gathering in town hall that took place last May to support the Arlington Jewish community after the Center for Jewish Life was twice the target of arson. Dray asked why town leadership has not organized a similar show of support for the people Pedrini targeted in his writings. She asked why town leadership shows more concern for Pedrini’s position than for his targets’ position. Her words reminded me of something I asked myself that evening in May at town hall. I wondered then, “If the targets of arson had not been white, would there have been an event like this to show them that their community embraces and supports them?”

Sadly, the answer appears to be, “No.”

June Rutkowski
Alpine Terrace