Chapdelaine’s Open Letter

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published September 19, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate

I’m dismayed at the unanimous praise voiced during the 9/9 Select Board meeting for our town manager’s recent open letter. My biggest problem with it is what it doesn’t say: for months now, we’ve had access to hundreds of documents concerning Pedrini’s temperament, record and treatment by the town. Those documents destroy the TM’s sanitized portrayal of Pedrini’s hateful October articles as an isolated misstep. Available to whoever wants to read them (though many have not), they include earlier racist writings; reveal a history of poor judgment, impulse control and anger management skills; and name Pedrini in two lawsuits against the town (one involving a fatality, recently discussed in an open letter to the press from the attorney who represented the victim’s family).

Also included are email exchanges: in some of those, former Police Chief Ryan voices doubts about Restorative Justice for Pedrini, questions whether Pedrini is capable of remorse, deems unacceptable some of his behavior during the RJ process, and recommends that severing of his connections with the MPA be a precondition for reinstatement. In others, members of the Human Rights Commission and participants in the RJ circles express serious reservations about the conduct of the circles while they’re underway. Recently, we’ve documented Pedrini’s taste for online hate groups, and further revelations may be forthcoming.

Although he knows it’s available, to date the TM has not mentioned this material publicly; his open letter doesn’t change that — to me, yet another sign of his distressing lack of transparency and indifference to our concerns and fears regarding Pedrini. Perhaps he fears losing support if more of us understand who this officer really is.

Mr. Chapdelaine’s silence is dishonest and dangerous. Dishonest, because withholding truths that contradict his narrative is lying by omission (an especially pernicious form of deception, invisible unless you know what’s been omitted); dangerous, because it sends a message (apt to circulate where cops like Pedrini are admired) that here in Arlington, racist policing is a slap-on-the-wrist offense.

Meanwhile, I’m left wondering if racist policing may soon claim a victim here; or if emboldened by Pedrini’s writings, someone will resort to random violence. And in this town where I’ve felt safe from the horrors occurring nationwide, I’m now terrified that someone will get hurt.

Hopefully, my fears are overblown. I’d rather see us avert a tragedy than regret one.

Louise B. Popkin
Cliff Street