Guest Column

This is in response to Paul deWitt’s guest column of June 11, in which he berates District Attorney John Hummel for supposedly advocating violence at the protests being held, of the police killing of George Floyd.

In Hummel’s guest column of June 2, “Where Are My Patriots?” Hummel discusses the unfortunate fact that when protests and other peaceful means are not heeded by leaders, sometimes people get to the breaking point and violence breaks out. The “pause” Hummel refers to is the hope that leaders and white people as a whole will pay attention and truly act this time to make necessary changes for black equality. Our mostly white leaders should not just voice promises of change, but make them happen, or more protests, and possibly more violence, will occur.

Hummel strongly iterates that “it’s time for the violence and vandalism to stop, and I urge protest leaders to call for this.” He does not, in fact, feel that any violence is acceptable. Mr. deWitt has taken Hummel’s comments out of context and exaggerated the point Hummel was trying to make. I have no personal allegiance to our DA, but as a protester, I feel that I must correct and speak out against the willful dissemination of harmful propaganda when I see it.

Mr. deWitt feels that Hummel’s analogy of the Boston Tea Party with today’s protests is “ludicrous,” that “in that case there was a specific target and legitimate reason for the ire of the colonists.” DeWitt doesn’t seem to recognize any target or legitimate reason for today’s protests. Well, let me name just a few, which are all very specific and legitimate:

  • Segregated schools, where areas of concentrated poverty have much poorer educational opportunities.
  • Being considered a suspect by police and white citizens, just due to the color of their skin.
  • Hiring practices that are clearly still unfair.
  • Discriminatory loan practices and in housing.
  • Vast inequalities in the criminal justice system, from arrests to convictions without adequate evidence, much longer prison sentences and the mass incarceration of black people.

By the way, the Boston Tea Party did, in fact, involve destruction of property — 342 crates of tea, the entire inventory of three cargo ships. It took destruction of property to get the British government to begin to pay attention. Colonists were killed in the Boston Massacre, and there were many incidents of looting, shootings and damage to property just prior to the Boston Tea Party, regarding the same issue — unfair taxation by the British. It was all very unfortunate. Check your history, Mr. deWitt.

Again, I am not advocating violence of any type. My hope is that deWitt will stop maligning today’s (mostly peaceful) protesters and educate himself on what racism and white privilege is, and also stop trying to whitewash history.

Mr. deWitt wants our protests to end. The police officers who killed George Floyd “have rightly been charged of the crime,” he says, and “that should be the end of it.” Protests “have gone on long enough. Protesters have made their point.” No, Mr. deWitt, we have not finished making our point. We won’t stop with just words voiced and empty promises made, as in the past; we’ll stop when meaningful action occurs.

Funny, another thing I notice is that the protesting colonists of the Boston Tea Party have always been referred to as patriots. Where are today’s patriots, Hummel asks? I can answer that, as Hummel did. They are the millions of us marching in the streets, protesting with signs, working in groups, companies, schools, churches and in government at all levels, to bring awareness of how blacks are discriminated against. These are true patriots. We seek to enact meaningful change and won’t quit until it happens. Change that will finally bring equal justice and opportunity to black people and other persons of color. Change that sticks.

Lili Alpaugh lives in Bend.

(1) comment

BuckeyeDuck

Well stated. Having grown up in Ohio I recall the Hough riots in Cleveland in 1966 and the Detroit riots of 1967. Protests along with death and destruction because of racism and 50+ years later we’re seeing the same thing, though on a much larger scale then back then, and thanks to the wonders of connectivity we get to see it all unfold in real time. Seems like we as a nation, haven’t learned enough in that time to put it behind us. I don’t doubt that we will see further protests as the election season ramps up. We’ll see how our current “leadership” responds. I see the current WH occupant not surprisingly due to his divisive nature, is threatening anyone who protests at his upcoming Tulsa visit with dire consequences. I guess the 1st Amendment only applies to his speech. This may be a long hot summer I’m afraid. Hopefully we’ll see a change in November leading to something that “sticks” per Lila’s commentary.

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