Remember our history
I, probably like some others, start writing letters in my head. Reading Sarah Schrock’s Twisp happenings in the June 17 issue of the News, I was relieved to discover she had been in my head and was writing it all down so much better than I could ever do, but am adding this addendum. What will our children learn from this?
For most, the energy that comes from the outrage of seeing brutality is usually short-lived. Changes might be made on the heels of that energy and even laws made that may or may not be effective. I was 30 miles away from the Watts riots and paid close attention to the changes made in that community after that outrage. Have those changes lasted? Some will say “yes” and some say “no” based on their viewpoint. Major change did happen in the 1960s even though I have heard younger people claim that “it didn’t work.” It did, but if you don’t know the past, there is no real reference point to make a judgment.
In the 1990s, in our valley, we recognized two tribes, the Native First People and the Immigrants (Americans from other lands). We decided to begin a dialog that lasted nearly five years, and culminated in a reconciliation ceremony called “Two Rivers” powwow to indicate two tribes coming together. Many of us who began that dialog have died, but the lessons learned here in this small valley are still viable and important. Outrages against the First People happened many years ago. Uncovering those stories was painful but acknowledging the injury years later still brought healing. In order to continue the healing and not to lapse into further injury and injustice, we continue to tell the stories through the Methow Valley Interpretive Center.
In the end, each generation will build on the one before, for better or for worse. It is up to the next generation, or the one following, to be aware of that history and to recite those stories to their children and grandchildren and to encourage them to step up to change or improve that history.
Carolyn Schmekel, Twisp
As a gun owner, I am appalled at the open display of weapons at the June 4 Black Lives Matter march and protest in Omak. News reports say that 100 to 200 armed community members showed up “to protect businesses.” From what? The demonstrators were respectful and non-violent. Were the militia-wannabes snookered into believing that Antifa elements were being bussed in from Seattle to trash Omak? Or was this really just a counter-demonstration opposing BLM and using the fake threat of violence as a pretext to strut their guns on the streets and rooftops to intimidate the marchers?
And what does it say about the Omak Police and Sheriff’s Department that the militia felt it necessary to dress up in their “battle rattle” and patrol the streets armed to the teeth? Sheriff Hawley could have met with the militia and explained that the police are the law in town, and “we’ve got this, you boys can stand down and go home and have a beer.”
Washington state law allows open carry of weapons in town by any non-felon adult, whereas carrying a concealed weapon requires a background check and a permit. Any untrained fool or group of fools can play army and tote their loaded AR15s around town. Personally, I think the open carry of weapons in an incorporated town or city should be illegal. But even if it is legal, common sense says it is dangerous and intimidating. The point is, we don’t need or want vigilantes or self-appointed militia of any stripe patrolling our streets.
Were the marchers intimidated? I’ve talked with some of them, and hell yes it was intimidating to have armed men watching your every move while you peacefully demonstrate. Sheriff Hawley is quoted in the Methow Valley News as saying that “merely being there with a firearm doesn’t qualify as intimidation.” But shouldn’t the state of mind of the person who feels intimidated be at least half of the equation?
Phil Millam, Upper Rendezvous/Winthrop
In last week’s paper, an article about a recent demonstration ran under the headline “Twisp rallies encourage respect for police officers, range of viewpoints.” It is important that all parties involved understand that presenting a “range of viewpoints” on systemic racism means presenting, on one end of the range, “racism is bad,” and on the other end “maybe racism isn’t bad.” This false equivalence is extremely dangerous.
I would like to thank Darcy Ottey for so eloquently explaining the harm that “blue lives matter” and “all lives matter” do to the fight for racial justice. However, her words were framed in a context that allowed false claims to counter her true statements. The “blue lives matter” movement disingenuously equates a chosen profession with a historically oppressed social identity. “Blue lives matter” was popularized in 2014, after protests over police murders of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown. From the beginning, it has been an expression of white fragility and a backlash to Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter is not a movement against the police; it is a movement for Black liberation. If fighting oppression can only be viewed as an attack on the police, it is time we critically re-evaluate the way we enforce laws in our country.
Lazo Gitchos, Twisp