Letters to the Editor
Originally Published October 10, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
It’s the one-year anniversary of Lt. Pedrini’s hate speech. I’m one of the “stakeholders” who contributed to the Consensus Building Institute report commissioned in reaction to grave concerns with the town’s response to those words. Twenty-two individuals contributed, 11 of us worked as a group with the report’s author to address our concerns.
We expressed concern that CBI wasn’t a neutral organization, not diverse-led, and didn’t specialize in racial justice. We worried that the town hadn’t reached out to people targeted by Lt. Pedrini. Weeks later, we’ve yet to hear any response to the report from town leadership. The report contains 50 suggestions, failing to prioritize them, enabling the town to cherrypick easy asks and ignore the harder ones. We prioritized five asks not highlighted in the report, with the primary ask being that Lt. Pedrini remain on permanent administrative assignment if demonstrating termination impossible.
Town leadership asks, why aren’t we hearing from those targeted in Lt. Pedrini’s articles? You won’t hear from these vulnerable people until leadership demonstrates they’re worthy of hearing those voices. You won’t hear those voices at the Human Rights Commission, where police presence is now standard and police were called when immigrants came with concerns about the HRC’s lending credibility to an illegitimate restorative justice process (from which HRC ultimately withdrew).You won’t hear from those voices when public records reveal Select Board members calling the police on peaceful citizens coming to public forums expressing dissatisfaction with town policy. Over 1,000 people, including dozens of renowned social justice organizations and over 15% of TMMs, signed a petition. The SB’s response was to vote to reaffirm their trust in our TM. What message does that send to those vulnerable communities leadership proclaims they want to hear from? The people involved in this cause have heard from many scared people who don’t feel safe going to the police; who’ve thanked those who’ve spoken up to say this isn’t right; who’ve said, I don’t feel safe coming forward but thanks for being an ally. They NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU that Arlington has their back, that they’re safe.
The town’s message: We want this to go away so we can be perceived as a good place again; let’s get rid of the division. Our message: We don’t want to look good, we want to do good and stand by all citizens. Silence creates division, action creates healing.