Town Protecting the Oppressor Over the Oppressed

Letters to the Editor

Originally Published October 24, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate

I am writing concerning the ongoing issue of Lt. Pedrini in Arlington. I have hesitated to write this until now because I fear retaliation; however, after the murder of Atatiana Jefferson by police in Texas, it is clearer than ever that it is incumbent upon responsible white citizens to speak out against police malpractice.

It is also incumbent upon us to consider carefully the measures taken by those around Pedrini. That his words were racist, xenophobic, violent and completely contrary to good policing is absolutely without question. He deserved to be terminated, and that should not be a matter of debate, especially given other facts that have since come to light, such as a restraining order filed against him. And yet instead of doing the responsible thing, the town chose to co-opt the process of restorative justice, using it to allow a racist cop to retain his gun rather than to provide genuine justice. RJ exists to protect the oppressed, not the oppressor; yet in this situation, town leadership allowed it to be completely savaged. Furthermore, town leadership has proven over and over again at meetings that they remain uninterested in examining the white fragility that played into this decision; instead, they are defensive and attempt to shut down debate.

Finally there’s the police department itself. I find myself frightened every time I see a cop car now, or a person in uniform; my chest starts to tighten, my heart starts to pound. I am a white, law-abiding woman. I should have little to fear. But the reality is that police in this country exist with far fewer laws than even our soldiers in actual warzones. They can get away with whatever they’d like: we’ve seen it here.

Not one single police officer, to my knowledge, has come out against Pedrini’s words. Why haven’t the other officers published a public letter denouncing Pedrini’s words? There are two explanations: either they don’t disagree with his words, or they have chosen the path of the coward. I do not want the people who are supposed to be protecting and serving me to have chosen cowardice.

It’s hard to see how the citizens of Arlington, particularly the marginalized ones, can ever trust our PD or town leadership again, but should they decide to come forward with honesty about mistakes made, there is a way. I very much hope that they do.

Vanessa Steck