Taking a wide-eyed look at a deeply painful situation….by Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer – Retired Police Officer
We have a crisis of humanity in this country and it’s at its limit. The issue is not just the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It is about neighborhoods that have been left behind for decades and have experienced racism for decades.
As a young child growing up in Los Angeles I vividly remember the Watts riots. I could see the smoke from the fires wondering if it would burn down our house.
We as a community need to have open and frank discussions on how we can positively impact Newport – OUR Community. We need to resolve to treat everyone here with deep respect no matter their race, religion, color, or sexual orientation.
I drove by Newport City Hall yesterday and saw several people with signs showing their disgust at the tragic death of George Floyd. They were holding signs and I was impressed that everyone was behaving in a positive and peaceful manner. I truly believe that only well thought out changes will make a LASTING positive difference.
Officers are human like all of us – and some make bad choices. I was proud to be a member of the Newport Police Department for 30 years where everyday all of the officers worked hard to serve our community and treat everyone with dignity and respect. No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop.
The law enforcement officers we have here in Lincoln County are ashamed of the events in Minneapolis.
We are our own hometown keepers of the peace. Most of our officers live here, have families here, and want to live and serve in an inclusive community. I have a friend that is an officer in the Seattle area who has been working all weekend dealing with the protests up there. She got off work this morning at 8 AM and went home and gathered up cleaning supplies and a power washer. Instead of sleeping, she and her husband went into town and helped clean up the mess from the last few nights.
The acts in Minneapolis were horrific and are occurring more often. Police work is very difficult and challenging in protecting the rights of our citizens regardless of race, political persuasion or world-view. It is critically important to recognize that racial and other biases are part of our culture and we need to continue to work aggressively to counter their impacts in law enforcement and all other aspects of society.
I am a strong supporter of the men and women in law enforcement, but I recognize that there is a cultural disconnect between law enforcement and many groups in many of our communities. We need to continue to work to bridge these gaps. We need to work to eliminate bias in the way people are treated throughout our country.
We cannot ignore racism.
We cannot ignore brutality.
We cannot ignore lawlessness.
We cannot let hate win.
Mayor Dean Sawyer