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Reader planned to participate in protest

I’d like to begin this letter by thanking Ty Flynn for his courage to step out and say we can make Elkins/Randolph County a better place to live for everyone, to Willa McWhorter and Michael Good for their messages to City Council, to David Parker for his letter to the editor so well stated, and to City Council for beginning the process of formulating a statement in response to what happened Sunday, June 14 at the City Park.

Ty made the correct decision in postponing the BLM march because of inclement weather. It turned out conditions were fine, but such is life in the mountains.

What ensued in the parking lot by the City Park was not OK! These “militia men” claimed they were there to protect the town. Oh, really? Did they have so little faith in our local police that they had to show up fully armed to a peaceful protest? These individuals were there to intimidate and cause trouble. Just check out the hate-filled rhetoric on their leader’s Facebook page.

True confession. I’m a 68-year-old white woman who currently serves on the boards of the Randolph-Tucker Child Advocacy Center, Read Aloud Randolph County, the DMC Scholarship Committee, and Woman’s Club of Elkins. I volunteer at the hospital, walk dogs at the animal shelter and attend First United Methodist Church- Elkins where I sing in the choir.

I’m past-president of the Woman’s Club of Elkins and current president of the Randolph County Democratic Women. And finally, I’m a 35-year veteran of the Randolph County School System, where I taught kindergarten, Title 1 math and fourth grade.

Now I tell you all this because the folks I know who were going to participate in the march are people just like me, individuals who have devoted their time and energy to making our town a warm and welcoming place for everyone, people who love this community and aren’t afraid to take a stand for what is right and good.

I was informed recently that a number of black community members have been targeted by a local hate group. This is totally unacceptable. Maybe everything in your experience is fine, but that’s not true for everyone. We have to look beyond ourselves and call out these perpetrators of hate and division who seem to once again be rearing their ugly heads.

It is my hope that each of us try to walk in another’s shoes, put our white privilege on the shelf, and above all be tolerant and kind. Lin Manuel Miranda in his masterpiece, “Hamilton,” referred to America as a “great unfinished symphony.” Hopefully the notes we write are not notes of discord and division but notes of harmony and peace. We can and we must do better.

Cindy Stemple

Elkins

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