Letter: Beware the protests?

Posted 6/17/20

To the editor:

  The juxtaposition between pages six and seven of last week's Times-Gazette was enough to confuse even your most dedicated …

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Letter: Beware the protests?

Posted

To the editor:

  The juxtaposition between pages six and seven of last week's Times-Gazette was enough to confuse even your most dedicated readers.  

    On page seven we were treated to a full page feature entitled 'A Peaceful march, a powerful message' which detailed the march organized by Warren resident Dyshell Palmer honoring the memory of George Floyd and bringing attention to racism in our community. According to the article, the event went off 'virtually without a hitch' with more than 1000 citizens joining in. In Ms. Palmer's own words, "It was super successful, everyone was really respectful of each other, and kept it peaceful."

    Compare these descriptions with the editor's warning on the opposite page regarding protests. "Organized thugs, anarchists and commonplace troublemakers are ready to infiltrate any gathering and wreak havoc in the streets. They do nothing to support the cause, and they severely damage American communities. Be careful who you attract when you gather in the streets."  

    What is this nonsense? Did our trusted reporter fail to unearth the criminal element lurking beneath the surface of this peaceful event, or is your editor engaging in smears and fear mongering. Surely you can't have it both ways. 

    I reached out to my mother, who attended the protest with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren (aged four and ten) to put your concerns to her directly. "No! I am not a thug, troublemaker, or anarchist! We were among the first to arrive and marched at the very end of the entirely peaceful and respectful crowd."

    In your final paragraph you nobly challenge your readers to do some self-reflection about how we may be propagating racial disparities in our own communities. You sagely write, "How racially diverse is your company? Your school? Your church? Your soccer league? Your social club? If your organization has not talked about racial diversity, then it probably is not racially diverse.  If your company has not reached into minority populations when hiring, then it probably has few minority employees." 

    Fair play to you. I am self-employed in a one man shop so professional diversity is not applicable. Nevertheless, recent events have made me painfully aware of both my inherent privilege as a white male and how little I have done to advocate against the systemic racism inherent in our country and our community. Recently, I have donated to a basket of organizations including AMOR in Rhode Island, bail-funds for protestors, and BLM.  I attended several protests in Providence and Newport and promoted them through social media (nary a thug or infiltrator to be found).  Small potatoes and much work undone, I know.  

    I look forward to hearing your own accounting of diversity at the Warren Times-Gazette and the greater Eastbay Newspaper Group, and what activism you are engaged in as an organization.

    I would not promote violent protest in these esteemed pages, but if the editor is in need of an explanation for why it occurs I direct them to the video “How Can We Win” by activist Kimberly Jones. It explains even as it breaks your heart.

Mark Dobbyn

Liberty Street

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.