Recently the North Coast Journal asked me to write an op-ed on the election. Here is what I wrote from my perspective as Chief of Police. #timetoheal
Last week Americans exercised their constitutional rights to vote and protest. First by electing Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America, and then by protesting his election. America is such a beautiful and complex mystery. At the protest, Eureka Police officers stood by watching over protestors, ensuing their rights were protected and that citizens could speak their minds. Most protesters were kind and peaceful. They just wanted to be heard. A few protestors, the same old tired ones, screamed expletives at the police and counter protesters who had shown up.
Here is what protestors did not know: EPD intercepted an on-line threat that a man threatened to shoot protestors. EPD developed a two tiered response: confront the person who made the threat and protect protestors, even the ones who curse the police. Eureka, we can respond with anger, vitriol and violence, or we can chose civility. My goal for EPD and Eureka is chose civility and be a force for good. There are four choices we must make to be a force for good.
We can chose civility. Civility toward our fellow countrymen and women is the byproduct of a healthy society. You and I can make a conscious decision to follow the lead of people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Pope Francis and Rev. Billy Graham. Part of civility is possessing the ability to discuss important topics without going nuclear. Even when we feel strongly about a matter, we can discuss these topics passionately, but with the perspective that this is my neighbor, my brother or sister, my fellow Eurekan.
We must also confront evil. Those on the fringe who speak of hate or extremism, be it from the right or left, must be challenged. Yes, it takes courage. Doesn’t it always take courage and personal risk to take a stand? Recently, a student at Baylor University was pushed and called the N word. More than 300 students showed up to walk her to her class, as they locked arms and sang Amazing Grace. Others confronted the aggressor. They told him racism is not accepted at Baylor. That is a powerful demonstration of how to confront evil. When a police officer in Urbandale, Iowa was murdered, a black woman brought water to a white police officer standing a traffic post. She hugged him. They cried together. Through a simple act of targeted kindness, they confronted an evil that tried to divide them. You and I must stand united against racism, sexism and anarchist extremism. These ideologies have no place in a civil society.
We can invite the vulnerable to our dinner table. There are many who feel unwelcomed to the table of prosperity and public acceptance. We can consciously make a decision to be inclusive. Not in a sappy way, but in a real, tangible and substantive manner. An approach that creatively uses the strength of our differences to strengthen the fabric this community. My mother was a young Jewish girl in post WWII America. It was those who included her and loved her that helped heal the wounds of the anti-Semites who call her a “dirty Jew.” Certainly it takes work on both sides, but should not the strong willingly offer a hand of hope to those more vulnerable?
We also must be honest with one another. This is the tough part. Too many people take cheap shots at one another using destructive and corrosive language to those simply expressing their opinion. Others, cannot handle even small amounts of earnest debate. Our community cannot get past this current schism until we chose to speak openly, honestly and directly to one another. We must not only speak, but listen, and try to understand another point of view. Humboldt, we should evaluate a position on the quality of the argument, the method in which that message was delivered, and the passion possessed for our fellow neighbors.
This is what I believe will help heal our city, county and nation. This is how we become a force for good and not evil. The choice is ours Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, and the rest of Humboldt County. Can we be civil, confront evil, practice inclusivity and speak honestly? The unity and livability of our community depends on it.