Letters to the Editor
Originally Published November 21, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
I watched the ACMi segment that aired on Nov. 1 of the town manager addressing the Select Board over the handling of Lt. Rick Pedrini’s case after Pedrini published a series of racist columns advocating violence against marginalized populations last year.
I was struck by how the segment centered on Mr. Chapdelaine’s position, but offered no dissenting views or rebuttals. For instance, Mr. Chapdelaine claimed that, unlike critics of the town’s handling of this matter, he believed in Pedrini’s redemption. As someone who is part of Arlington Fights Racism (arlingtonfightsracism.com), the group that has been most active on this issue, we also embrace and encourage redemption. However, redemption requires genuine remorse as well as efforts to make amends. Additionally, according to the tenets of Restorative Justice (RJ), redemption also does not necessitate (and often in fact must preclude) reinstatement to a former role if the offense involved leveraging a position of power to cause harm (as Pedrini did). In a legitimate RJ process, it is essential that the offender may only be redeemed by people who were harmed. Therefore, it cannot be up to our town manager to make that call. As noted by the American Bar Association regarding RJ: “Neither reintegration nor forgiveness must mean reinstatement to a former role or position…” I am writing to the Advocate because I would like to publicly clarify our views. In the ACMi segment, the town manager mischaracterizes the dissenting position based on his own interpretation. This is a prime example of the town’s refusal to listen to those deeply concerned about this situation, and it should be noted that the deaf ear of the town is the cause for the increasing outcry in this case.
One might wonder whether the town leadership is using our local cable station to dictate a narrative, as if it is their PR firm for its position on this case. Activists on this issue are available for interviews, and we hope all reporting outlets will take advantage of that with any future coverage of this topic.
Shaileen Crawford Pokress