Select Board’s Lack of Leadership Preventing Healing

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published October 24, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate

I was not at the September Select Board meeting when the issue of Lieutenant Pedrini’s published writings was first brought up in the Open Forum as I was in the hospital. However, I did attend and speak during Open Forum at the Oct. 7 meeting as I was extremely distressed about the comments made by the Select Board Chair Diane Mahon at the previous meeting labeling those sharing their concerns and frustrations with the situation has been handled as “divisive.”

It is actually the hateful writings by Lt. Pedrini and those on the Arlington mailing list and social media who verbally and personally attack anyone who dares to state that the articles were racist or wrong who are being divisive — and the Select Board for failing to show ANY sign of leadership regarding this matter. [It’s the duty of our elected leaders to listen to us and act accordingly.]

Beyond my commitment to the Black, Latinx and immigrant students and families I have worked with over the years who are now even more afraid living in Arlington and cannot speak out publicly because of a valid concern of backlash, I am also concerned about other demographics that are vulnerable to police violence. As someone who has been a spokesperson on mental illness recovery for a number of years, I am well aware that those with mental health disorders are disproportionately assaulted and killed by police (though the media rarely covers that).

And as someone who lives in affordable housing, I am now even more afraid to call the police than I used to be if there is a potentially dangerous situation in my housing complex.

As someone who has personally been the target of overwhelming police harassment after speaking out about a sexual assault I experienced by an elected leader in a former city I lived in (so much so I fled), I now suffer from profound panic at the thought of interacting with the APD.

Up until Pedrini’s platforms came to light, I managed my fear of police due to a congenial relationship with former Chief Fred Ryan and felt relatively safe living here in Arlington. But that is no longer true. And Select Board members calling those of us sharing our stories as divisive and saying we should not be at this meeting is the opposite of what is needed now to bring healing to our community.

Kim Kay Holt
Orchard Place