Letter: Calling for fairness in our communities, not division

Posted 7/2/20

In response to the Black Lives Matter march and flag flying over Town Hall, a new group, Bristol County Concerned Citizens (BCCC), has petitioned to march to promote “traditional American …

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Letter: Calling for fairness in our communities, not division

Posted

In response to the Black Lives Matter march and flag flying over Town Hall, a new group, Bristol County Concerned Citizens (BCCC), has petitioned to march to promote “traditional American values” and fly a flag to honor first responders. In doing so, the group fails to acknowledge a real problem: The criminal justice system is not fair for all.

This group should take a cue from the 48 police chiefs in Rhode Island who together pledged to undertake reforms last week. At the core of the police chiefs’ constructive initiative is an “acknowledgement that the criminal justice system requires reform at all levels to make it more fair to all persons, especially persons of color.”

Acknowledging the need for reform does not disrespect first responders. Striving to achieve equal protection under the law aligns with U.S. ideals.

Moreover, BCCC is out of step with the American people and major institutions:

  • Two-thirds of U.S. adults say they support the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 4-10.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper announced new steps in June to improve fairness for service members of color, acknowledging the military is “not immune to the forces of bias and prejudice,” reported the Washington Post.
  • The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, told the 43rd Session of the Human Rights Council on June 18 that "the Holy See wishes to reiterate its consistent and firm conviction that racial discrimination in all its forms is absolutely intolerable.” As such, it is the responsibility of the state to “recognize, defend and promote” each person's basic human rights.

Fairness and justice are the watchwords for this moment — not more division and a false choice. We can support our first responders without protecting policies and practices that create or perpetuate unfairness in criminal justice. Together, we can do better.

Beverly Larson
Bristol

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.