We were reminded last week of the importance of our work with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, before she was killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer, posted on Facebook, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”,. This past week, that is the sentiment we continue to hear from our community members. We know, and you know, that here in Piedmont, we are not immune to hate and bias - it was just 3 months ago that the school district responded to anti-Semitism and racism on campus. And this coming weekend, there are at least 2 white supremacist events planned within miles of these city council chambers.
This past week Charlottesville’s mayor Michael Signer wrote, “The people who visited terror on us were using the mechanics of the Constitution — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly — to attack its soul, to set fire to the pillars of civility, deliberation, compromise, tolerance and reconciliation that underwrite our system of government….it is this soul — the norms and values, that enable us to collectively solve problems without force, violence and intimidation.”
So here in Piedmont, how do we channel our community’s soul our norms and values that underwrite our system of government to collectively address the reality of hate and bias?
For example, at a city council meeting in 2010, after several wrenching testimonials from residents about mistreatment by the police, then-City Administrator Geoff Grote admonished the council to instruct the City to act. That pivotal moment, inspired and stimulated a multi-year process of introspection, action and the transformation of policing in Piedmont.
Last fall, November 2016, in a letter sent jointly by the Board of Education and City Council, you as Council members committed to:
- Stand united to promote acceptance and kindness.
- Stand up to bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and violence.
- Stand up for each individual in our diverse community.
We encourage City Council members to also continue acting and speaking on their stated commitments from the November letter, and to work in ways that reflects the norms and values of a welcoming and inclusive Piedmont:
- A Piedmont where we speak up against every biased remark.
- A Piedmont where we continue to educate ourselves on why a phrase or action is offensive.
- A Piedmont where we appreciate and reiterate anti-bias messages to build on the powerful start of one person’s voice to create change.