Mayor issues call for community efforts against hate in first post-pandemic town hall

Mayor Mike Nelson welcomes attendees to Monday evening’s anti-hate town hall.

In his first town hall meeting since the COVID crisis hit more than a year ago, Edmonds Mayor Mike Nelson issued a call for community action to battle the rising tide of hate, hate crimes and hate speech. Joining Nelson on the dais were Edmonds Schools Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas, acting Edmonds Chief of Police Michelle Bennett, NAACP Snohomish Chapter Vice President Louis Harris, Edmonds Diversity Commission Member Nikki Glaros, and Diversity Commission Youth Representative Caitlin Chung.

Also present were Edmonds Economic Development Director and Diversity Commission staff liaison Patrick Doherty, Edmonds Youth Commission chair Owen Lee, City Councilmember Luke Distelhorst, and City Council candidate Janelle Cass, who is challenging Distelhorst in the upcoming Aug. 3 primary.

The Monday evening event attracted an estimated 25 attendees and was held outdoors in the main plaza of Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Nelson addresses attendees.

“I’m excited to be holding our first town hall event since being locked down by the COVID pandemic 14 months ago,” Nelson began. “And it’s really appropriate because we’re here on a subject that has impacted our community and our country – and that is hate. Tonight we want to share with you what you can do about acts of hate, how to deal with and report them, but most importantly we’re here to hear from you about things we should be doing proactively, not just responding. It’s about how we can get together and be more connected as a community. The mayor, the school district, the police – we can’t solve it on our own. It has to be a collective effort.”

Nelson went on to cite FBI statistics that say two thirds of hate crimes go unreported and that Washington state ranks third in the nation (behind California and New York) in overall numbers of hate crimes.

“This is unacceptable,” he stressed. “It plagues us everywhere. As a nation and as a community we are becoming desensitized. This is not OK. It is totally intolerable. And we’re here tonight to remind you of that and to show that we want to be proactive and do more.”

Acting Edmonds Chief of Police Michelle Bennett offered information on how hate crimes are defined, and the efforts of Edmonds police to enhance their reporting, tracking and enforcement.

Nelson then introduced acting Edmonds Chief of Police Michelle Bennett, who outlined what constitutes hate crime and what is being done to better keep track of hate-related incidents.

“The important thing to keep in mind about hate crimes is that the current statute defines it based on the perception of the victim by the suspect,” she explained. “Someone spray painting something nasty on a wall does not rise to the level of a hate crime unless the suspect did it based his/her perception of the victim.”

As an example, she said that painting a swastika on a wall is not in itself a hate crime, but painting one on a synagogue can be charged as a hate crime because it was directed at a specific person or persons.

Bennett went on to explain that until recently, many hate incidents that did not rise to the level of hate crime went unreported, but that has now changed.

“We now catalog and categorize all case reports of hate-related incidents, and document these in a central repository,” she explained.

Edmonds Schools Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas spoke to the role of schools in educating students about hate crimes and activity.

Next to speak was Edmonds Schools Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas.

“We currently have 22,000 students enrolled in the Edmonds School District,” he began. “Of these, 53% are students of color. On top of this, there are more than 130 languages spoken in our district. We are becoming more diverse as a school system, and we can expect this trend to continue.”

He went on to explain that the schools teach kids that if they see or hear something, they need to say something, and that this covers all grades, elementary through high school.

“We have to teach kids what’s right and what’s wrong at an early age,” he stressed. “The more training, the more resilient the kids will be, and the more we contribute to promoting a healthy, safe community.”

Louis Harris, NAACP Snohomish Chapter vice president, spoke about how hate crimes and racism continue in our communities.

Louis Harris of the NAACP took the podium next, stressing the importance of creating community and talking about and reporting incidents of hate and racism.

“I want to dispel the myth that racism is no longer a problem,” he explained. “It’s hard to get folks up in arms about things they don’t see every day. We know racism exists, and that for students it correlates with what they’re learning at home and in society. This means transparency is important – the kind of transparency we gain by the kind of comprehensive data collection and reporting referred to by Acting Chief Bennett. It is critical as we move forward to create more inclusive systems.”

Nikki Glaros, Edmonds Diversity Commission member, spoke about the role of the commission in engaging the community.

Harris was followed by the Diversity Commission’s Nikki Glaros, who spoke about how the commission works with community groups to promote greater understanding and awareness, particularly citing the Diversity Toolkit created by consultant Courtney Wooten, which is primarily designed to help businesses connect with resources.

The session then opened up for audience comments and sharing.

Caitlin Chung, who serves as the student representative to the Diversity Commission, spoke of her experiences as a minority in school where teachers and classroom materials did not reflect her or her culture.

Among the first to speak was Caitlin Chung, youth representative on the Edmonds Diversity Commission, who shared her experience growing up as a member of the AAPI (Asian and Pacific Islander) community and facing both overt and systemic racism in school.

“There were no teachers who looked like me,” she explained. “It was hard growing up with this. A turning point for me was when I helped organize the Highway 99 rally against hate in response to the Atlanta incidents of racial violence against members of the Asian community. I felt empowered, like I was doing something to turn the situation around. I don’t want the rising generation to face the same things I did in school.”

Another attendee asked about the swastikas that were painted on trees in South County Park earlier this year, and how officials responded.

“Part of that response is today’s forum,” said Bennett. “This is one piece of the multi-layered response that the mayor put together. Others include partnering with the school district, collaborating with police responders, implementing educational initiatives related to diversity including a public education social media campaign, involving the street crimes team in this incident, and working on installing game cameras in these areas to keep track of potentially illicit activity.”

Attendee Alison Alfonzo Pence, also a member of the Diversity Commission, asked about how to access the data on hate crimes.

“This has been a challenge,” responded Mayor Nelson. “Up until very recently we simply did not have these data. But that’s now changed, and reports are being kept and categorized.”

Another attendee asked about public education and what’s being done to ensure the public is being informed.

“Up until recently we’ve been too siloed,” Nelson responded. “The police, the city, the schools have been tripping over each other tracking the same data. I’d like to see a more comprehensive approach where we’re not duplicating efforts.  Today is the beginning of this proactive collaboration. Up until now we’ve been reactive where silence signaled acceptance – if you don’t talk about it, it will go away. We need to break this mindset.”

“We need to understand what’s out there now,” added Balderas.  “Among students and young people there is a lack of understanding of the seriousness of this. Kids are doing copy-cat things like using hand signs and making posts on social media that maybe they’ve seen on TV. They think they’re being funny, but in many cases these are offensive. They need to learn what’s right and what’s wrong, and understand the consequences of their actions. As educators, we need to look at the intent behind these actions – was there malicious intent? It all goes back to the education piece.”

Another education-related point was articulated by Caitlin Chung, who shared that as a student she never had a person of color as a teacher, and her schoolbooks all had white characters.

“I didn’t know who to look up to,” she said. “So I just acted white – I totally dis-embraced my own culture. I feel ashamed of this now – I want the younger generation to feel proud of who they are and where they came from.”

Nikki Glaros underscored this by stressing the importance of kids seeing themselves in teachers and library books. “Representation matters – it’s huge,” she added.

Another attendee asked about the effects of kids spending large amounts of time in the virtual world, where they’re being taught by bots or social media posters – and the parents don’t know what their kids are doing.

Bennett, who taught cyber safety classes for 15 years while with the King County Sheriff’s Department, responded that kids often don’t know when something they’re doing online is criminal.

“A computer is like a pen,” she said. “You can use it to write, or you can use it to stab someone. Kids need to know that what they say online is just as damaging as what you say in person – and just as illegal. They also need to know that it can come back to hurt you later in job applications and college submissions – we search social media whenever we’re considering a hire, and this is now common practice everywhere. A lot of kids just don’t have this information. For example, it’s a fact that 88% of sexting photos end up on porn sites.”

The next comment was from Janelle Cass, who shared her experiences in the Air Force where her gay and lesbian friends were under the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and the damage this caused by forcing them to always suppress themselves. She went on to praise the stepped-up efforts by police to help vulnerable communities feel safe coming into businesses by quickly responding to hate incidents. She then pointed out that the Diversity Toolkit produced by the Diversity Commission contained links to websites that talked about defunding police, and asked how this reconciles with the growing and important role of police in this regard.

After acknowledging that he “wasn’t aware of that,” Mayor Nelson asked Patrick Doherty to respond.

Explaining that the Diversity Toolkit lists numerous resources including websites, books and podcasts, he pointed out that while some of the sites contain links to other sites that contain material about defunding, the primary sites listed in the kit do not.

“We didn’t intend users to go beyond the main page,” he explained.

Owen Lee, chair of the Edmonds Youth Commission, asked about policing efforts and the appropriateness of using officers for community engagement.

The final comments came from Owen Lee, Edmonds Youth Commission Chair. Lee asked Acting Chief Bennett about the anti-police sentiment among many young people fueled by the many incidents of police violence around the nation, and what she would do to “combat this” and help young people be more receptive to the role of police in quelling hate and hate crime.

“There’s no way I can combat anything,” responded Bennett. “We as a department can educate about our authentic selves and our true community nature. As Sir Robert Peel (founder of the London Metropolitan Police Service in 1829) said, ‘the public are the police and the police are the public.’

“There are bad actors everywhere, and I have no excuse for those people,” she added.  “In my 30 years I’ve never shot or punched anyone. But sometimes we have to use force, and we have to be realistic about police work and what it looks like.”

She then referenced new police legislation (HB 1310) passed by the Washington State Legislature earlier this year, which would limit police use of force, and define the conditions under which police can intervene. She also spoke of enhanced community engagement programs, and partnerships.

“We only use force when necessary to protect someone’s life, we never use more than we have to, and we are trained to de-escalate,” she added. “But policing is unpredictable, and if an encounter turns violent it’s better to have the responder trained in the use of force than to send in someone without this training and potentially put their life at risk. We have to be all things at once – counselor, conciliator, peacemaker, crisis de-escalator, engager and protector when necessary.”

Nelson then offered closing remarks, stressing once again that this is a community effort.

“We can’t do this alone,” he said. “We all need to be eyes and ears, call out when you see things happening, be a good neighbor. Today is the first step, but there will be more as our dialog builds.  We have a loving, caring community, and we want to do what’s needed to keep it that way.”

For those who could not attend and/or have additional questions or thoughts to share, these can be submitted as messages on the City’s Facebook page here.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

  1. Had there been more than 25 in attendance, I would have wagered that the person who painted the trees were there. Of course the websites that push this agenda immediately link to police defunding. The next layer in the onion is Marxism, American iconoclasm.

  2. New York, California, Washington. Doesn’t exactly line up with past stereotypes. Maybe we could learn from the states we look down on?

  3. I want to thank the Mayor and these community partners for taking hate seriously and offering this forum. It continues to reach people through media coverage. I especially appreciate that Mayor Nelson ended it with credit to Edmonds for being a loving and caring community! It is true and will be even more true tomorrow with each of us making small and large efforts to improve as human beings!

    I am interested to learn more about the proposed camera program in parks. It seems like it would take a great number of them to be statistically likely to capture the next perpetrator spraypainting a swastika on a tree. At what expense? And at what loss of zen? Seems a little creepy to think you get recorded every time you take a nature walk. Let’s be thinking about this one as a community. Maybe there are better solutions.

    Before someone accuses me of being casual about swastikas , I’ll share that my Jewish grandfather was on a train out of Germany when his papers were questioned by a Nazi soldier. But for the hunger of another who convinced him to leave it and go to lunch, I probably wouldn’t be here today. We know a thing or two about the hate it represents.

  4. I’m glad the Mayor is focusing on hate crimes, If a small group of interested people are levered to make laws for the rest of us, good on them. Some of us aren’t able to step up to help at this time, but surely NO ONE is FOR hate crimes. They’re more a mental health problem.
    What the states with high rates of hate crimes have in common is a diverse population, a good thing, but getting along is difficult for those who feel entitled. Good on our Mayor for looking for solutions to a problem, but agree that more cameras may not be the best way to go.
    Defunding police in their regular roles of law enforcement while having more people with other skillsets (like dealing with mental health problems) visibly out in the community may help.

    1. Theresa- your comment reminds me about a really valuable program called the Citizen Patrol. It would give the police department more reach into the community through trained citizen volunteers providing some of the same value cameras would, and also give the City an on-demand volunteer force for things like traffic and crowd control (think 4th of July parade and the overtime expense avoided by using some citizen patrol volunteers instead of officers being paid overtime). Seems like it would pay for itself in that kind of return.

      Edmonds resident Trudy Dana set that program up when she was on staff in Lynnwood and is a great resource on this.

        1. Brian,
          Thanks for your insights. I agree that engaging citizens more actively in making our city safer is a wise idea. Over the past few years, we’ve seen increased minor crimes—especially in the eastern part of our city between 80th eastward. We’ve had the “bicycle crew” with backpacks cruising the neighborhoods looking for theft opportunities, catalytic converters being stolen from vehicles, drug deals being done on the Interurban Trail, etc. These sorts of activities are harder to do if there is increased citizen awareness. Things such as enhanced Blockwatch programs, more citizens out walking in small groups, using cell phones to snap pictures if suspicious activity is happening, etc. can all be effective in reducing minor crime. As we proceed in identifying a permanent police chief, I hope the issue of more effectively engaging our citizens in helping to reduce the incidence of minor crimes will be a priority.

  5. Olivia, I hear that. I hope I am not saying something obvious… Nazi’s didn’t paint swastika’s on the trees. The EPD investigated this and I guarantee they didn’t call up a local faction of Nazi’s and ask them where they were at on the evening that the trees were painted – because they know that legit Nazi’s didn’t do this. They exist:
    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/national-socialist-movement

    Someone close to me asked me to stop wearing adidas shoes because the men who created that company were card-carrying Nazi’s. It’s true. I thought a minute and pointed out that the KKK were card-carrying Democrats and if she could go on being a Democrat, I could go on wearing my sneakers. Neither of us are a Klansman or a Nazi. Ironically it’s not progressive if you move on. Some idiot painted swastika’s on trees as a means to prevent people from moving on. It’s almost always done in bad faith, whereas a real Nazi [ironically] would have done it in good faith. Which one would be worse?
    https://thefederalist.com/2015/11/10/was-the-poop-swastika-incident-at-mizzou-a-giant-hoax/

    Is the Edmonds Mayor’s office or the Edmonds City Council how hate gets abated in the world? Are they[you] even able to move the needle? The War on Terror somehow created more terror didn’t it? I hate to say…

  6. Come on Matt. The KKK (robe and mask wearing lynch mobs) were mostly card carrying Southern Democrats (you know the “Solid South” voting block) from an entirely different era of politics than we have today. The “Southern Democrat” Lyndon Johnson got the civil rights act passed in 1965 and the “Solid South” immediately became the “Solid Republican Party South” in retaliation against one of their own for taking up the Black equal rights cause. The Solid South suddenly embraced the Party of Lincoln and everything political in America got turned on it’s head. I will give you the fact that basing one’s choice of shoes on ideological grounds is pretty stupid. Your obfuscation of American history with inappropriate labels – beneath your otherwise high intelligence I think.

    1. Clinton no. Strom Thurmond was the only KKK-era democrat to switch parties (out of hundreds of representatives and senators). So, the parties didn’t flip. As far as voters go, every southern state Barry Goldwater was able to pick up in 1960’s, was later won by Jimmy Carter. There was so “suddenly” like you say. Pro-slavery Democrats, in states like Arkansas or Georgia died in place, which slowly changed the demographics. Generations changed the way people vote, not some centrally planned party-flip. This is why Klansman like Robert Byrd died as the ideological mentor to Hillary Clinton.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strom_Thurmond
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Byrd

      Look at these maps.
      Some Blue states flipped red under Goldwater:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_United_States_presidential_election

      Then immediately back to Democrat Wallace:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_United_States_presidential_election

      Jimmy Carter was able to pick them up after Regan:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_United_States_presidential_election

      Bill Clinton [suddenly] flipped some of the core southern states.

      1. Matt, I’m old enough to remember Richard Nixon and his “southern strategy” for winning the 1968 election. Pretty clear he was going after the racist vote, folks vehemently opposed to the Civil Rights act of 1964 and the Voting Rights act of 1965. His strategy was effective.

        1. Roger…. Nixon won in 1968 by carrying [racist?] California. Nixon lost Texas. Nixon lost Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama to Democrat Wallace. In 1972 Nixon won *every* except Massachusetts.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_United_States_presidential_election

          The Southern Strategy [myth] is attributed to Barry Goldwater, and like I pointed out, Democrats won those states >after< Goldwater. The states that somehow flipped parties, remained Democrat strongholds under Wallace and Jimmy Carter.

          There is so much about American history that is accepted prima facia.

        2. Matt, Nixon lost those southern states in 1968 to George Wallace, a racist candidate born and bred in the south. When Wallace left the picture, most southern voters went Republican for good, and stayed there ever since.

        3. Roger, your point about Nixon helps us circle back to the topic, this article – all those racists are dead. What few are left have no power here unless we give it back to them. The Mayor and I are about the same generation. I bet we both received questionable racist chain emails from our grandparents or older uncle, the ones where you’d have to read a bit then scroll down to learn more, then scroll more, then scroll more, just to read something absurdly patriotic and questionable racist. I didn’t scroll those emails, and I didn’t forward them. I also didn’t stop loving the backward person who sent them. Neither did the Mayor. Why the he’ll in the public sphere do he highlight, grandstand, and platform backwardness (or trolling?).

      2. Mat, Once again you show off your debate skills along with “Superior Intelligence”.

  7. “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”

    ― Mark Twain (Author)

  8. Former Democrat Governor of Louisiana quipped that the only was for him to lose an election was to be caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Our one party state with irretrievably corrupt elections and profoundly ignorant population make his jest now seem quaint. Our politicians could only lose if they used the wrong pronoun to identify the dead girl or live boy. Edwards won by the way. He later went to prison for corruption and started running for Congress upon his release but loses. He would be well advised to move to the left coast if he wants to revive his political career.

    1. Dennis, WA would be much less of a one-party state if the Republican Party put up more credible candidates than Donald Trump and Loren Culp~ two people guaranteed to lose any statewide contest. The WA GOP needs more candidates like Kim Wyman, solid, capable people.

  9. That’s simple. Carter won because he was from the South and people were fed up with Nixonion Republican politics and corruption. The Ford pardon was also a big favor to Carter. The Rs will when again in WA. if they put up people like Gorton, Dunn and Evan’s. Many people commenting here now would consider those fine people RINOs.

  10. Everyone seems to love Republicans they never voted for. Strange. Matt’s factually correct on every point. I served with plenty of folks whose ancestors were in the KKK. They were candid about that and rejected their racism. Much has changed and we should be celebrating that instead of trying to re-stoke embers that are appropriately burning out. And that was almost forty years ago, right about the period of the Southern strategy hoax (Google that for some excellent articles on what really occurred with our neighbors in that part of our country).

  11. Glen, what’s strange about suggesting that you Republicans might win an election here once in awhile if you didn’t run screwball egomaniac losers like Trump and Culp all the time? You have to face the reality that these type people are not likely to win in mega voter urban areas like Seattle and Tacoma even if they are “the cats meow” in bastions of individualism like Winthrop, Republic and Arlington. Nothing really strange about that idea. We are really two countries in one (rural and urban America) and always have been. I can respect smart and well meaning Republicans even if I didn’t vote for them. I rather respect and would probably vote for someone like Kim Wyman, for example. Actually I think I did vote for Evans for Governor. I’m not voting for any announced Democrats in the coming city elections because party affiliation is not appropriate here. You aught to try a little open mindedness about people you criticize and think you dislike. You might end up liking them even. I actually like M.R. and enjoy telling him he’s wrong routinely and I suspect he feels the same way about me. Hope so, anyway. We really are all stuck in this thing together and it would behoove us to learn to get along better I think. No one in their right mind wants another Revolution or Civil War.

  12. Clinton,
    I’m not a Republican. I actually voted for a Clinton once. I’m no fan of party line voting and have never voted straight party line. If someone honestly supports a candidate’s policies, they have an obligation to support that candidate. This country is a mess because too many people continue to vote in their own disinterest and blame somebody else for it. As for the name-calling, it’s not persuasive. I consider it weak argument and pointless. I don’t recall labeling anyone “egomaniac” or “loser” because I didn’t like their positions. As far as open-mindedness, I’ve lived almost my whole life in a region that won’t admit it’s own decline. I’m more than open to try another way.

  13. I think we forget how recently the Southern Strategy supposedly played out. I found this clip of our president referencing Strom Thurmond while addressing the senate today. Does anybody remember when both parties were tough on crime? Good listen:
    https://bit.ly/3l1JOiO

  14. The 60’s were a period of lawlessness, mistrust of government and racial tension (sound familiar?). One party supported civil rights (the other did, but to a lesser degree) and law and order. It’s a ridiculously simple strategy and almost always effective. It led to 20 out of 24 consecutive years, Nixon/Ford (8), Reagan (8), Bush (4). Republicans labeled every Democrat opponent as soft on crime, often unfairly. Currently, the Democrat party is teeing up the whiffle ball, hoping that labeling their opponents as racist will carry the day. I hate politics, probably because I still love my country.

  15. Glen, I hear you on the general uselessness of current political party ideology and dogma doing any good for us. I used to vote straight Democratic Party (Not Democrat Party) which is a put down label started by K. Rove and Grover Nordquist to suggest being a “Democrat” was/is a bad thing. To conform with that popular nomenclature you would have to call the Repulican party the “Republic” party which I notice they don’t do on Fox News, it’s just the Democrat party over there. No real problem, to each his own on that. I watch it some too, just to see what’s going on in rural and middle USA.

    I differ with you that the Republican party has ever been even a lessor degree supporter of Civil Rights for Black People. What support the Republican Party had for the end of slavery and Civil Rights for Blacks ended with Lincoln’s assassination. Even prior to the Civil War, Lincoln was a weak kneed abolitionist who promoted continued segregation of the races, no inter marriage and no automatic right to vote for Blacks prior to emancipation, which was little more than a tactic to end the Civil War quicker. He viewed the Black “race” as inferior. Some of Lincolns’s rivals did support those ideas of Black equality, that Lincoln rejected for Black people. (Source, Team of Rivals, by Doris Goodwin) which I’m currently reading. Lincoln was a great speaker and did think slavery was evil in nature and should be ended sooner or later for the betterment of the Nation.

    Finally when I hear someone say “Only I Can fix It”, I’ll reserve the right to call him an Egomaniac. The “Republic Party” revisionism on Jan. 6th. insurrection is a national disgrace, like the assaulted policeman said. And this is the party of supporting the Police? Actions, vs. easily said words. And I also love my country for trying to get better over the years, just as you love it for whatever reasons you have. Peace and Love, my friend.

  16. Clinton,
    The Dem correction is accurate but the name predates the two you name and Fox News. Given how Bernie was treated, I’m sticking with it. As for your take on Republicans and race, it is just factually inaccurate at every point. The first black congressmen were Sen Hiram Revels (R-MS), Reps Benjamin Turner (R-AL), Robert de Large (R-SC), Josia Walls (R-FL), Jefferson Long (R-GA), Joseph Rainey & Robert Elliot (R-SC). The first popularly elected black Senator was Edward Brooke (R-MA) in 1966.
    I can’t seem to find anything but anti-slavery quotes from Lincoln, although I do think JFK’s Profiles In Courage was right in that Lincoln was primarily dedicated to saving the Union. After that, Constitutional Amendments on Civil Rights were consistently supported by Republicans at a higher rate; 13th – 100% vs 23%, 14th – 94% vs 0%, 15th – 100% vs 0%. Eisenhower integrated the military and ran on civil rights in 1956. He then passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and created the civil rights section of the DOJ. A higher percentage of Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960 and 1964.
    My biggest problem with the modern Republican Party is that they don’t seem to stand for much anymore, certainly not with any conviction. Tax cuts are not a cure- all, despite what Mitch McConnell says.

  17. The modern Democratic party bears no resemblance to the Democratic Party that emerged after the civil war, anymore than the modern Republican Party bears any resemblance to the Party of Lincoln. Black people who were in a position to vote and hold office (most weren’t in post Civil War Southern states after the carpet bag era of occupation by the North) held allegiance to the party that they perceived as saving them from the Hell of slavery. In your rebuttal to me, you make no mention of LBJ (A Southern Democrat himself) who spear headed the Civil Rights act that actually gave Southern Black people real civil rights to vote and not be forced into segregated schools. The Republicans of his day reveled in the fact that the solid Democratic South switched allegiance rather quickly after LBJ managed to force the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964. This happened after months of peaceful protests and marches by Civil Rights activists in the South that were met with fire hoses, police dogs and beatings to secure the simple right to vote assured by the U.S. Constitution. Eisenhower is not the one who did what you claim he did with the military. Harry Truman integrated the armed forces July 26th. 1948. Truman also appointed the first African American judge to the Federal bench. The violence in the 60’s you referred to in your earlier post was mostly Civil Rights protest and anti Viet Nam war protest. The violence at Kent State was the U.S. Military firing on peaceful protesters, probably due to accident or panic. The problem I have with the Right, is that they consider violence to preserve order as always good and protest against injustice as always suspect and usually motivated by conspiracy of one sort or another. Peace again my Friend.

  18. Clinton,
    The Republican Party has a better record on civil rights. People can like or dislike that as much as they like, the history proves it. Eisenhower was the most influential president ever, on civil rights. While Truman’s executive order declared integration in the military, it was Ike who made it happen. My own dad’s military experience validates the claim. Look up the judges appointed by Ike in the South and his actions concerning Brown vs The Board of education. LBJ voted against civil rights before eventually supporting, to his credit. If you want to criticize the modern Rs for not doing enough, I’m sure you can make some valid points. I still see mostly a push for limited government and state’s rights, not racism.
    We definitely have a different opinion on the 60’s. Much like last year, there was a great deal of violence. The 1968 Democratic (better, right?) Convention most likely helped Nixon, the guy who ended the war and founded the EPA. Definitely not defending his many wrong actions, by the way. As for Vietnam, as a vet I got to live through the treatment our military never deserved. And as someone who has been to Vietnam and has known many of their citizens who had to flee re-education by the Communist regime, I have no apologies for supporting the South and their hopes for Democracy. Our handling of that war has far too many devious acts to list (see President Diem, Laos, etc), but I support our involvement. I also remember which politicians were in charge. If you want to make a legitimate anti R criticism, you can start with the neocons like Wolfowitz and their influence on the Bushes.
    Best Wishes

  19. BTW, my wording implies I served during the Vietnam War. I volunteered after the draft was ended. Don’t want to add to the false military claims list.

  20. It’s futile to try to discuss issues with people who invent their own facts as they go along. First the “fact” in your comment was that Ike integrated the armed forces; when a simple google search debunks that convenient “truth” you put out there. Then you turn it around and say it’s “true” because Ike did the actual work involved. What Ike did was agree with Truman and continue the work, which the Military at the time was not thrilled about. The fact is Truman integrated the armed forces. I grew up in the 50’s in mostly Republican Lincoln Nebraska where my 6th. grade White teacher taught us that Black people were just not as smart as White people and not as clean. Blacks lived in one part of the city and did not leave except to clean houses or dig ditches somewhere. Blacks were in no way welcome in all White neighborhoods unless they were serving Whites in some capacity. I’m done with this silly discussion. It doesn’t interest me any more and probably no one else here either.

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