Photo: Belmont Against Racism
Letter to the Editor:
Belmont Against Racism (BAR) condemns the verbal abuse of Belmont Police officers by members of the public as reported in the Belmontian on September 14. http://belmontonian.com/featured/belmont-police-officers-increasingly-targeted-with-verbal-abuse-from-the-public/ As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Hate begets hate, violence begets violence…”
We support the Belmont Police Department and have confidence in the leadership under Chief James MacIsaac, who has embraced the 21st Century Policing Principles and police reforms. The Department’s policies had already aligned with the 8 Can’t Wait https://8cantwait.org/ policies encouraged in the wake of George Floyd’s killing In addition, the BPD has partnered with Communities for Restorative Justice to provide, when parties agree, a restorative justice alternative to court proceedings. We are not Kenosha, or Minneapolis, or Louisville. The BPD has been engaged in conversations with BAR over the past decade and regularly attend the Human Rights Commission meetings. We have all learned from these conversations and have established respect for one another. We appreciate that service that the Department provides for Belmont and are saddened to learn of the negative treatment that the Belmont officers have faced.
To be clear, BAR strongly condemns police brutality as we have witnessed in the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and so many others, and we believe officers who commit murder should be swiftly brought to justice. We believe Black lives matter. We support police reform and are hopeful that the Massachusetts legislature will soon send the police reform bill to the governor to be signed.
But wanting reform is never equal to hating an individual or assuming they oppose reforms. There is no reason for hateful treatment of any individual and this behavior is counterproductive to encouraging change. Hate speech will do nothing to encourage institutional change in housing, health, education, and the environment. Hate speech will not encourage any redirection of investments into alternative community resources, or further the cause of any demands for police reform.
There should be no place for racism in Belmont and there should be no place for hate either. We urge respectful treatment of police officers in our community as we work together to make Belmont a welcoming community for all.
President and the Board of Belmont Against Racism