Letters to the Editor
Originally Published August 15, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
I’m writing with concerns regarding Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine’s letter to the community. While I want to commend the town on their decision to continue to keep Lt. Pedrini on administrative assignment while working to determine next steps with an outside consultant and community stakeholders (including the organizers behind the petition), I think it is important to acknowledge that the letter falls short of addressing many of the pressing questions that have come to light with the release of hundreds of public town emails involving this case. Why hasn’t Pedrini been asked to step away from the Massachusetts Police Association per the recommendation of Chief Ryan? Why are we considering restorative justice successful when several town leaders and members of the circle sent emails of concern following the process? Why are we not concerned about the tremendous financial liability we face by keeping Pedrini on the force? Are there concerns that future arrests he makes might be challenged on bias and/or past cases might be brought into question? What are we doing to address the public safety concerns expressed by so many residents? The list goes on.
It has become clear that authority figures such as Pedrini have the power to influence/incite/empower extremists and white supremacists by using their words to promote violence against immigrants and other targeted groups. These actions pose a real and present danger to Arlington and surrounding communities’ public safety and security. We as a community want to do everything possible to protect our citizens from these hateful messages which are time and time again followed by inspired incidents of violence and tragedy. In order to best protect our town and surroundings, we must send a clear message that Pedrini’s calls for violence will not be tolerated in our community. This is why it is so very important to name Pedrini’s writings as racist. While the community letter acknowledged the writings as xenophobic, Chapdelaine stopped short of calling them racist. If we as a community cannot disavow Pedrini’s words as racist, we move from casual racism being tolerated to more dangerous levels of racism being tolerated. Naming Pedrini’s comments as “racist” may be uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary to build trust and healing for those marginalized groups in town that were most impacted by his words.