Hijackers not welcome

8/13/2020, 6 p.m.
We are perturbed by the most recent spate of destruction in our city.

We are perturbed by the most recent spate of destruction in our city.

The violence and destruction must stop.

The perpetrators are diminishing the message and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the critical reforms and accountability being sought by largely peaceful demonstrators and protesters in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, education, health, voting rights and employment.

We’re at a critical juncture now in this movement and cannot have our nascent steps toward equity undermined or thwarted by the unruly, shortsighted actions of a few, regardless of whether they are outside perpetrators or those inside bent on sabotage.

We also are concerned about the sudden sledge hammer crackdown by Richmond Police on peaceful food and information distribution efforts in and around the area protesters named Marcus-David Peters Circle where the Lee statue unfortunately remains. We call on Police Chief Gerald M. Smith to re-evaluate his goals and strategy so that Richmond can get to a level of peace and equity in the public spaces along Monument Avenue.

This week marked the third anniversary of the bloody and deadly conflict in Charlottesville between white supremacists, neo-Nazis and counterprotesters. Those forces of hate and violence are still present in our state and infiltrated our city. We don’t want them to derail the removal of the remaining Confederate statues or to dilute the broad support for dismantling the racist systems of oppression and inequity in so many areas.

To make headway, we call on advocates from the many groups that have been focused on reform to come together and strategize.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality and other groups, were able to come together in often very contentious sessions. Vernon Jordan, in his 2001 autobiography and memoir, “Vernon Can Read!” explained how — in spite of being wary of police informers and/or saboteurs — they were able to strategize and ultimately effectively use the unique strengths, skills and tactics of each organization to create change.

The stakes for our future are too important to allow the destruction by a few to sabotage the path forward.