Letter: Flying of BLM flag has created new division in Warren

Posted 7/23/20

Editor's note: This letter was delivered to the Warren Town Council earlier this month and also sent to the Warren Times-Gazette:

The following is the summation of my opinion of recent actions by …

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Letter: Flying of BLM flag has created new division in Warren


Editor's note: This letter was delivered to the Warren Town Council earlier this month and also sent to the Warren Times-Gazette:

The following is the summation of my opinion of recent actions by the Warren Town Council. Be advised I am copying all council members, the town manager, fire and police chiefs as well as the Warren Times. I am further requesting that it be read in its entirety at the meeting.
This appears to be the age where anyone can be offended by almost anything. Let me tell you as a lifelong citizen of Warren, a retired Army General Officer with 35 years service, and a leading community action individual I am deeply offended by your recent actions in raising the BLM flag at the Warren Town Hall. Unfortunately I was out of state during your recent “deliberations” and ill thought out actions, and am only now getting to voice my complete opposition to what you are doing. I feel more than justified in expressing my serious disagreement, as I have devoted years of my time to making the Town of Warren a better place, more than any of you reading this message. For years I served as an unpaid volunteer in the following categories: Member of the Hugh Cole school building committee, lending my credentials as a Registered Professional Engineer to the effort, chairperson of the parents advisory committee on special ed, member and Captain of the Warren Fire Department Rescue Squad, member of the Housing for the Elderly Housing project, responsible for getting HUD approval for fire protection above the standards at the time, researched and organized the Historic District Committee around unique standards that made participation voluntary but provided tax incentives for following national standards, at the request of the town council president, took over and managed Warren’s Memorial Day program for the past 12 years, finally I have managed and directed the total restoration of the Warren Artillery Armory on Jefferson, by raising and spending over $400,000 in the effort, which had resulted in the showpiece it is today.
I did not list the accomplishments above looking for accolades, but rather to clearly establish my life long efforts to make Warren a better place. I must tell you by bringing your personal political views in formulating public policy in Warren, you are creating serious divisiveness within my community. As with all of us you are entitled to your personal opinion, but not when you carry those over to your official duties. You have created division in our community because of your actions. In my opinion you have lost sight of reality and are trying to fix something that isn’t broken. That isn’t to say that Warren is perfect, but your actions are destroying the community. As an aside, when I see all the vacant storefronts in Warren, I can’t understand why you are not being more constructive in building Warren up rather than tearing it down.
Let me get to the obvious question. Am I a racist because of my views? Let me tell you in my 35 years in the military I have served with white, yellow, red and black soldiers. I didn’t see color, I saw only soldiers. When one of my black officers was seriously ill I visited him in the hospital, went to his funeral, and as the last thing I could do for him, presented our flag to his grieving wife. I served under General Colin Powell in Germany, and I never saw a black officer, only a great American! So I am deeply offended by your flying the BLM flag suggesting you are compensating for all the racists in Warren, which obviously includes me.
One final thought, your flying the BLM flag also supports their contention of police and fire brutality. I take serious exception to that as well. In Warren we have a very professional volunteer fire department and police department of our fellow citizens, and your actions show you are placing your view of political correctness above respect for these hard working community servants. You need to take a look inward.
Many of you are recent citizens of Warren, and probably have no sense of our history over the slavery issue.
Fully 211 Warren citizens served in the Civil War to save the Union and abolish slavery. About 10 percent of the population at the time! Ten of those soldiers lost their lives and many others returned broken in mind and spirit. Your ill thought out espousing of the BLM movement dishonors their sacrifice and service.
Further, you need to take a good look at what you are supporting. The BLM movement started on a good note
but is now driven by a Marxist philosophy. I must conclude that you are either totally ignorant of today’s BLM or completely misinformed. Just look at the reality of it, roughly 15 black murders weekly in the black communities in cities such as Chicago and New York, and BLM is focusing on the tragic loss of one black life at the hands of a rogue white police officer.
Folks you need a serious dose of reality.
Let me ask you about your new found interest in promoting the cause of blacks. Did you issue a certificate of condolence when Matt Harris, a dispatcher and volunteer fireman died, or when former Warren police officer Sam Greene passed away? Because of your silence on those issues close to home, I must conclude you are being totally hypocritical in your actions.
So in closing let me make my position very clear. The only four flags that should fly at the town hall are the National Colors, the POW flag, the RI State flag, and the Town of Warren flag. The divisive and hate filled symbol of the BLM flag needs to be removed immediately! If you wish to fly any flag at your personal residence have at it.
I understand you are considering another flag pole to accommodate other flags. That’s your call. But in my opinion you are opening a Pandora’s Box and may well find yourself in never ending litigation over what flags can be flown.
Let me conclude by strongly emphasizing:
Your efforts should be focused on fixing real problems in Warren, not creating imaginary ones!

Brigadier General Richard J. Valente USA (Ret)
Barden Lane

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