Letters to the Editor
Originally Published November 21, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
I am writing in response to a recent letter to the editor that criticized the petition regarding Lt. Pedrini for including signatures of some who do not live in Arlington. The group that drafted the petition was transparent in allowing any Massachusetts resident to sign on, and welcomed those signatures for several reasons.
Lt. Pedrini’s racist articles were published in the statewide newsletter of the Massachusetts Police Association and read by law enforcement officers across the commonwealth. The influence of his hateful words therefore is statewide, impacting 350 other towns and cities, including some communities where police profiling of residents tends to be more commonplace and can have fatal repercussions. Also, Pedrini remains on the executive board of the MPA and continues to have influence there.
Some of us have friends and family who are part of the demographics targeted by Pedrini’s violent rhetoric; these loved ones now may not feel safe when they come to visit us or spend time in Arlington. Many people from other towns and cities work here or regularly patronize our parks and businesses; they may feel threatened by the reinstatement of an officer who has yet to demonstrate he really understands what he did wrong or express genuine remorse for his words. Anyone passing through Arlington can be stopped for minor traffic violations; those who are or may appear to be among the groups disparaged by Lt. Pedrini may now be afraid. (Police logs show that those arrested in Arlington for nonviolent offenses often are not Arlington residents.) All of these nonresidents have the right to not be profiled by law enforcement and may wish to have their voices heard on this matter, as it affects them personally.
Finally, in offering Pedrini a questionable and watered-down process as a path to reinstatement, the town has set a dangerous precedent for other municipalities in the state and nation in dealing with officers who express racist sentiments and advocate violence against civilians. This ripple effect can be far-reaching. A study from just this summer found that police shootings are a leading cause of death for Black men in the United States. Does Arlington want to be responsible for exacerbating this risk and enabling officers who harm or threaten those they are sworn to serve and protect to keep their positions of power? I hope not.