Editor, Gazette:

There has been a dark ugliness released in this country and it has created much turmoil and distress for the American people. It continues to grow with each passing day. There have been rude and hurtful comments, vilification of others; untruths have spread like wild fire, lack of personal responsibility, threats, violence and destruction. People are told that they are anti-Christian or anti-American, if they have different viewpoints. All of these behaviors are on full display for our children. Gone are the days of having a spirited debate, shaking hands and agreeing to disagree.

In my profession, I work daily with people who struggle with managing depression, anxiety, trauma, ect. I have never dealt with the level of despair people are experiencing because of the unrest and chaos created by the current government. In addition, there is a world wide pandemic happening, and people are dying every day, and still our government can not seem to pull it together, and let loose of the rhetoric, and create a sense of calmness and safety for people.

Recently, Bedford County was put to the test. There is no need to review the details, as it has been well publicized. My concern is the gathering in downtown Bedford, and the show of gun power to “protect our town”. For many, this was seen as necessary, and at some level successful. I question, however, the wisdom of such a display and am concerned about the many possible ways this could have gone very wrong. This group proclaimed they were there to “back up” law enforcement in case there was any “trouble.” My question is, were these people trained and practiced in how to respond if something were to have actually happened. Did law enforcement agencies, actually ask these individuals to be present? Was there a chain of command, and actual leadership, so in the event of an “attack” that these people knew whom they were firing upon? When “trouble” did not come to them, they took it upon themselves to go find it. Was this a strategic move authorized by law enforcement? Has anyone though about the people of color who live and work and pay taxes in this community, and how safe they feel with these recent events?

I am most saddened by the fact that there has been no word from the leaders in this community to offer clarification or comfort. From those who have been elected or chosen to protect and care for the wellbeing of this community, there is silence. My belief is that leaders in a community should represent all the people, not just those who adhere to their particular political stance.

I will conclude with some wise words form our 39th President, Jimmy Carter, in a recent statement… “we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to racially discriminatory police and justice system… We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations. “We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”

Paula Betts-Redmond

New Paris

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