Letters to the Editor
Originally Published October 3, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
A storm is brewing in the heart of Arlington that, if ignored, may sweep those now in power out of office and those employed out of jobs. That storm is the justified indignation felt by hundreds of Arlingtonians after our town manager decided that restorative justice, rather than termination, was the correct “punishment” for the hate speech spewed by a senior member of our police force: Lt. Richard Pedrini. He is now back on the job, gun and all. For their part, elected town officials and hired managers attempt to rationalize their terrible mistake. No one, it seems, wants to take responsibility for this fiasco of “justice.” And Ironically, Lt. Pedrini, in his writings, mocks the very restorative justice process he has benefited from.
Some have argued that Lt. Pedrini’s writings are constitutionally protected. But just look at what we are talking about here in Pedrini’s own words where he calls on fellow police officers to kill or otherwise “put down” alleged criminals and the undocumented:
- “[police officers] who were killed in cold blood by vicious animals. Animals that can only be ‘rehabilitated’ when they are put down.”
- “‘Bull—-!’ I say. He [the alleged criminal] is a rabid varmint, a vile piece of human excrement, and an oxygen thief who doesn’t deserve to walk among us.”
- “I am sick and tired of the social justice warriors telling us how to do our jobs. It’s time we forget about ‘restraint,’ ‘measured responses,’ ‘procedural justice,’ ‘de-escalation,’ ‘stigma-reduction,’ and other feel-good BS that is getting our officers killed. Let’s stop lip-synching, please! Let’s meet violence with violence and get the job done.”
This is not protected speech. This is hate speech designed to incite violence. Written by one of our own: an armed officer of the Arlington Police Department.
Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition, including dozens of Town Meeting members and community organizations, calling on the town to:
- Develop and announce a plan for repairing community trust by November 1, 2019.
- Restrict Lt. Pedrini to desk duty while this plan is developed.
- Work with an impartial, racially diverse, third-party organization to conduct a review of the APD and assess the presence of bias within the department.
- Develop a plan for ongoing cultural competency and anti-racism training within APD based on the assessment findings and third-party recommendations.
- Develop a plan for the establishment of a racially and class diverse Civilian Review Board.
It’s not too late for town leaders to do the right thing. The only question is: what side of history will they choose to stand on?
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 21