Commissioner Hover has forgotten that he was voted into office — he did not “sign up,” as he stated in last week’s article, “Outrage over DeTro’s Facebook post sparks recall movement.” As commissioners, they have to be careful; “we signed up for this job — nobody put us here,” he said. I imagine that the people who voted for Mr. Hover found the statement surprising as well.
Mr. Hover excused Mr. DeTro’s actions as a “mistake.” However, Mr. DeTro has a long history of posting racist and hateful content. It was not a mistake, it is a pattern, one that Mr. Hover has allowed to continue by not speaking up. By calling it a “mistake,” Mr. Hover is not addressing the problem and is giving Mr. DeTro a pass.
I am glad that we have a sound candidate running against Mr. Hover this fall. Katie Haven offers practical leadership and a commitment to holding Mr. DeTro accountable for his racist commentary and ideology. Please join me and so many others in supporting her campaign.
Kelleigh McMillan, Twisp
I know for many in eastern Washington, Seattle seems far away, their politics irrelevant. I grew up in eastern Oregon, and we certainly felt like that about Portland. The politics felt — and often were — so disconnected it felt like a different state. My dad moved to Walla Walla in 1994. I’ve lived in Washington full-time since 2007: Walla Walla, Seattle, now the Methow. That divide exists statewide.
It is a dangerous gap nationwide, that has existed for decades. Now is not the time to fall into it. As I write, Seattle is waking from a night of police brutality, to cap a week of brutality. I have friends who, protesting peacefully, were assaulted with gas and flashbangs for exercising their First Amendment rights. This after Mayor Durkan and Chief of Police Best suspended the use of tear gas. Never mind that gas is banned in warfare.
It’s easy to think, here in rural Washington, that this doesn’t affect us. That it’s Seattle, and the bad behavior of their police holds no relevance here. It does. If police brutality goes unchecked; authoritarianism unchallenged; and leadership doesn’t stop it, it’s only so long before it spreads. Before governments nationwide think they can suppress peaceful protest, arresting, assaulting, and waging war against civilians who voice opinions they dislike.
Regardless of your stance on current protests, that should scare you. As a white man, I’ve had little reason for fear. I acknowledge that privilege. I don’t want to fear the police, or view them as tools of oppression. I want police who protect; who I trust; who I can call for a welfare check on a mentally ill neighbor unconcerned they’ll kill her; who won’t pull guns on innocent men for using a golf club as a cane, or spend more resources fighting reform than fighting crime. I want this for everyone, regardless of race, background, mental health, or immigration status. This isn’t the Wild West of the 1800s. Let’s act like it and demand better of our law enforcement.
Murray Sampson, Winthrop
Let’s do better
Quite a wind has blown in from across our oceans and across our nation. The global pandemic, and the convulsions, reactions, and reflections sparked by the agonizing, public death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have touched all of us in some way.
My concern is how we all respond to these events. Our thinking and behaviors can be shaped by long-standing, and perhaps unrecognized fears and biases, and the current flood of rumors and conspiracy theories that are dividing us as a nation. Or, our thinking and behaviors can be shaped and based upon some of our proven values, such as “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and our common respect for the system of government outlined by our Constitution.
In order to beat this virus, that to date has killed over 112,000 of our fellow countrymen, we need to work together. And, we need to respect our diversity, and work together to deal with the root causes of the extreme disparities in our communities and society that lead to great comfort and privilege for some, and a lifetime of fear and struggle for others.
It does not help when heavily armed men come to town, to “protect business owners’ property and our right to free speech,” The net effect is to intimidate and divide us even further. My father, a combat grunt Marine who fought through the South Pacific and Korea, would have been disgusted at the sight. Finally, it does not help, be he the President of our United States, or a county commissioner, that their focus is not on the unity and efforts of our people to solve our common challenges, but on their efforts to sow fear and distrust. We all can do better, starting now!
Andy Jones, Tonasket
At the emergence and reality of the COVID-19 virus a couple of months ago, I was confused at first about the meaning of wearing a mask. I viewed mask-wearers as being known virus carriers and I adamantly avoided them. Now, through education and paying attention to medical and scientific experts, I realize that wearing a mask is an indicator of a person’s caring for others’ safety in case they, the wearer, may be asymptomatic — the mask helps protect those around them in public situations. I now always wear a mask for needed trips to the grocery store, post office, and hardware store. When I see others wearing masks I am smiling my appreciation behind my mask and thanking them for caring about me and others.
I understand the need for a gradual reopening of the economy but am very worried about the safety of our valley as I observe the influx of visitors from other communities. I have seen a huge lack of social distancing and wearing of masks in public and instead have observed crowds of people milling around. I imagine at least some of these people also frequent the valley grocery stores, hardware stores, and other businesses. I feel that our community has been doing a pretty good job of proactively taking care to make good decisions and I am dismayed to see a change as we begin to have visitors. I recently heard an out-of-towner remark that she felt “safe and sound” now that she was in our valley as opposed to being in Seattle. This can only be true if we maintain social distancing and responsibly wear masks. We have to keep up the good work!
Gov. Inslee’s recent requirement that all business owners and employees wear masks should help with everyone taking care but there are still businesses not complying. Valley businesses need to show responsibility for our community health and safety, not just being open for profit. I choose to frequent and support businesses where I feel safe. We are all in this together — everyone please do your part!
Kathy Williams, Winthrop
I want to thank the people who organized a respectful and peaceful march in honor and memory of Black Lives on Friday (June 12). Carrying signs with the names of black people killed by the police was a powerful and stark reminder of what black citizens in this country fear every day, and of how hard it is for us white privileged folks to really understand that reality.
We need a memorial in Washington, D.C., like the Vietnam Memorial, that names those victims of the legacy of racism at the hands of police. I urge us all to write our Senators and Congresspeople to introduce legislation in Congress to create and fund a Black Lives Memorial. Perhaps that is already in the works. But join me in writing to see that it becomes a reality.
Kathleen Learned, Twisp
Conversations about race
As a white, privileged woman and the mother of a black child, I am a student of race relations, but not an authority. I will never truly know the black experience. Nor will 99% of the people in our community, even if you have a black friend, or worked with a person of color.
As such, it gives me hope for healing a deep cultural trauma when conversations around racial justice are seeping into our distant white community. While this valley doesn’t harbor a substantial black history, race issues have been here since natives were forcefully removed from their homes. And I’ve personally watched people of Hispanic descent treated as second-class citizens here.
The conversations I’ve witnessed around black lives are courageous and clunky, and even cringeworthy at times. But having them is an important part of shedding light on shadows and creating a culture of equity. Thank you to those of you trying to learn more about racism by reading, or listening or watching some of the great media available on this topic. The following are a few ground rules I’ve learned from race forums that may support further conversations.
If a discussion around race doesn’t involve some discomfort, it’s missing something.
Be willing to respectfully listen, learn, and share without shame.
You will not have all the information, nor will you identify all of the solutions.
The saying, “I don’t see color” is a term of white privilege. It is a racial bypass and will not support collective healing.
The goal is not about who to blame, it is more about how to accept responsibility.
No one person represents, nor should be expected to speak for a race, or continent, sex, or gender.
Finally, I probably wrote something wrong here, or assumed something I shouldn’t, please forgive and share it with me.
Beth DiDomenico, Winthrop
More on accountability
Lynette Westendorf’s letter, “Accountability needed,” in the June 10 issue, is spot-on. DeTro’s apology is no apology at all. It is a rambling statement of contempt. Commissioner Hover seems ho-hum about pushing for DeTro’s removal, resignation or sanction, by trying to explain the process for removing a commissioner as being complicated and time-consuming. Hover seems willing to let the DeTro matter slide by in hopes it will go away. Lynette is right. Andy Hover needs to held accountable.
Chuck Borg, Wenatchee
What de-funding means
When you hear de-fund the police what do you think of? That’s the thing about #tags and slogans, thinking can be cut short. I imagine you think of an instant action that takes money from police departments leaving them gutted and then all hell breaks loose because who will protect us, right?
Regarding de-funding, let’s reframe this as de-militarizing the police. The police culture in many places is one of being a warrior rather than a guardian. Police are expected to do things they are not trained to do because they are trained to be warriors not social workers, and mental health workers.
In de-funding the police we should look at the imbalance of police budgets to services, schools, housing, health care, mental health care, jobs, and more. We need to look at the power of police unions to give impunity to abusive and murdering policemen, and the pressure they place upon mayors and city councils, getting them rehired when removed from the department. Making rules that keep hidden from the salary paying public, the police officers’ records of complaint and violence.
There are private companies training police and saying things like, if you’re not ready to kill someone you’re in the wrong job. Really? Police should be out there protecting and serving while constantly being ready to kill someone? This is a culture of violence against people not a culture of service and protection. Add to this unconscious and conscious bias and we are living the result.
Now, why should we even care? This isn’t happening here in the Methow. Right it’s not, and we are citizens of this country the United States of America, to me that means we should care about what is happening in our country as a whole, as well as what is happening locally.
So I get it when folks say de-fund the police, they know culture is hard to change. Sometimes you just have to start over like they did in Camden, New Jersey, in 2013. Their redo worked. You can Google it.
Raven Odion, Twisp