by Sarah Squires
From: Chuck Ripley
Winona Human Rights Commission Chair
As chair of the Winona Human Rights Commission, I want to stress how, especially in light of the recent tragic killing of two police officers in New York City, all lives matter — police lives, black lives, all lives of every kind. Every race, creed, sexuality, and profession share a common humanity with the same rights and dignity. The vast, vast majority of police officers and recent protestors want fairness, safety, lawfulness, and justice alike.
The jobs of police officers are dangerous and complex, and they deserve our deepest thanks for their service. No true police office ever wants to use unwarranted lethal force, and all true police officers want to have a positive relationship with the communities they work with. Where we feel they can improve, it is the job of a responsible and engaged community to work with police officers with the respect they all deserve.
People who protest do so because they have perceived a wrong. We may not agree with them, but they are responding to their conscience and exercising their constitutional rights. We should not dismiss them because a handful of firebrands use protests as an occasion for rioting or other forms of violence.
I know that we as a community, state, and nation are strong enough and mature enough to express our reactions to events in a considerate and nonviolent manner that respects those who may disagree with us on particulars. We cannot let that disagreement lead to hate or violence — verbal or physical. We must recognize each other’s positions and try to build a common solution to the problems we face. That is the foundation of civility and democracy.
Especially during this holiday season, it is important to remember that the more we recognize each other’s humanity, the more we redeem our own. Let us express ourselves with reason and feeling, but also listen and learn with empathy and love.
My heart goes out to officers who recently lost two brothers.