PRIHODA: George Floyd Protesters demand bonafide change, not just words

Letter to the editor from Monica Prihoda, RTM District 6. This is my personal view and does not represent the opinion of the RTM.

Thank you for your excellent coverage of the peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Greenwich.  The purpose: to demand bonafide change – not just words – in the way Greenwich residents of color are treated.

Leadership is always difficult – especially in a town such as Greenwich with strong and often unyielding opinions.  A true leader uses their authority for the greater good of the community not just the special interests of the few.

By popular demand that leadership exhibited itself by Chief of Police Heavey who took a knee along with his officers in a visible show of support for the purpose of the demonstration and then First Selectman Camillo, who came out to address the crowd offering his cellphone number. 

The important thing is:  they showed up and acknowledged the need to address this virus of racism which has existed and is alive and well – yes in Greenwich too – long before Covid-19 appeared.  Scientists are working day and night to create a vaccine for Covid-19.  If only there was a vaccine for racism in all its forms – overt and more often its subtle and hard to put a finger on forms.

That leadership is also exemplified by Governor Lamont and other Governors around the country who will not kowtow to the dictates of a President who demands force against peaceful protesters for a photo op outside a Church, a place of peaceful worship, wielding a Bible as if he were holding a copy of Mein Kampf.  Crack down!  Dominate!  “Those people” should know their place! 

2020 is different. Very different. Very raw. In the 1960s then President Lyndon B. Johnson began the process of desegregation and used the National Guard to protect innocent children of color entering a school.  Today, President Donald J. Trump uses the National Guard armed with tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters outside a Church to suit his own political agenda.

The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a zoom dialogue with Greenwich Police Chief Heavey at 12:00 noon on June 9 (registration required). 

Hopefully this will begin a dialogue of regularly scheduled conversations between Greenwich Police and Greenwich residents of color to promote understanding of the issues from both sides.  And, hopefully, this will make a good police force even better and for all people to understand the challenges of the police.

Then there’s the matter of Twitter.  I do not participate in it but I understand there is major backlash attacking our First Selectman for his prudent leadership in this unprecedented time of Covid-19. True, the demonstrators should protect each other by wearing masks.  Unfortunately, I also see quite a few people of non-color not wearing masks as restrictions “relax.” Everyone should be wearing a mask even the Twitterers, some of whom are in our town governing body of the RTM, who do not take Covid-19 seriously or that Black Lives Matter.

Monica Prihoda, Old Greenwich