Arlene Edwards/letter to the “The Voice”
Hello BU, my name is Arlene Edwards and this letter is in response to the letter to the editor entitled: Doing Their Duty – in defense of the police, published on Thursday November 20th 2008 written by an anonymous person. I was in my room studying and my roommate sent me a text message telling me that someone mentioned my name in “The Voice” but it was not in a good way. When she returned home that evening she brought with her a few copies of the school paper. I flipped to the Opinion section and read the letters. When I read the “Doing their duty” letter I became enraged, one because the person who wrote the article is obviously very ignorant and bias, second because they decided to put my statement and my name in the paper without comprehending what I was trying to express to the listeners and lastly because they were not even bold enough to state who they were. I do believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I respect that people want their voices to be heard. Unlike the anonymous writer however I’m proud enough to put my name behind what I stand for and what I believe in. The writer insisted that I get my “facts” straight, as far as “facts” go, I found some discrepancies in the “facts” written in the anonymous letter to the editor so I would like to take the time to point them out to the writer as well as the readers who might have read his/her letter and passed judgment due to the falsifications of their letter.
The writer stated that “in order to become an officer of the law, you have to take classes to ensure you know how to handle minority cases without any kind of racial backlash.” Just because a police officer attends a course on handling minority affairs without racial counterattack does not mean that when they leave the course that any type of racial or prejudice feelings they may feel towards certain minority groups vanish. It is very possibly that all the police officers that were involved in the Homecoming Incident attended this specific course on handling minority affairs, however , that does not mean that they used the necessary skills acquired from training to properly disperse the “riot” as the writer referred it as.
The word riot is frequently used to misleadingly describe the incident; so allow me define the word riot. According to Webster Dictionary a riot is defined as: a public act of violence by an unruly mob or a wild gathering involving excessive drinking and promiscuity. It is apparent that the writer of the letter was not present at the Homecoming Dance because if they were they would know that no acts of violence were inflicted on the police and it was not an unruly mob. I would like to point out that not moving because you were never told what direction to be moved in is not being unruly, it is miscommunication on the polices’ behalf. I do understand that two students might have been behaving in an unruly manner; however those two individuals are not an adequate excuse for categorizing the crowd itself as unruly or a mob. Looking at the second definition, there were no acts of promiscuity taking place outside the Kehr Union and there was no excessive drinking, actually there was no drinking at all; Bloomsburg University is a dry campus so it would be inapt for someone to believe any statements about drinking going on at the event. From these two definitions it is evident that a riot be ruled out as an excuse for the excessive police force that was used, after all there was no riot.
The anonymous writer also stated that “It was a Hip-Hop Dance, the primary attendance to this dance were multi-cultural students who were mostly black (what a surprise)…. Why so much security? Ever heard of Columbine? Virginia Tech? If this statement isn’t prejudice then I don’t know what is. I have been to events hosted by white students and the majority of music that was played there was Hip-Hop, Rap Music, and R&B so to state that it was no surprise that most of the students were black is a very ignorant and unsophisticated accusation because it is not just African Americans that listen to those genres of music. Attempting to blame the genre of music listened to as a need for a higher level of security is ludicrous. The anonymous writer also referred to Columbine and Virginia Tech two tragic incidents that took place. When referring to Columbine: the shooters were Caucasian students who listened to mostly rock and heavy metal music and the student responsible for the Virginia Tech incident was of Asia decent. So for the writer to imply events where Hip Hop music is played or events that mostly African American students attend require additional security, attempting to link black students or the genre of music to the tragic events I listed above, is also rather absurd.
The anonymous writer also wrote: “Three students were arrested at the dance; one of them was Jacquest Harris. He claims he was …wrongly accused, mistreated, and disrespected….. This sob story is enough to make me sick.” On behalf of the individuals that were arrested I would like to address this unintelligent, uncompassionate, remotely disgraceful comment made by the writer. Having known these individuals, myself as well as many other people here at Bloom can vouch that they are probably some of the calmest, respectable, least problematic young men you will meet. It is unfair to believe that these individuals were rightly charged, when they solely intended on getting their friends out of harm’s way. It is even more unjust for the individuals responsible for the chaos to walk away from the incident consequence free. For someone to claim that this is a “sob story” shows just how derisory their thinking is when it comes to the magnitude of the situation. These young men will walk away from this incident with their reputations ruined and with a tarnished record that will undoubtedly affect them in the future. It is not right and something must be done about it. The writer also commented on Professor Vandivere’s statement that “the only safe place to be, because of the racism in the area is the campus.” I completely agree with Dr. V, whether people want to believe it or not the town of Bloomsburg has many racist and prejudice occupants. I am not saying that everyone in Bloomsburg is racist because that would be an false exaggeration, however, racism still exists in this world, in this country, in this state, and most importantly IN THIS TOWN. For the writer to say that they have been here long enough and have not seen any racism, it is because they have never blatantly experienced racism or prejudice. When you never experience something you become naive to its existence and anyone who aggress that it is not present in the town of Bloomsburg is naive as well.
Lastly, the anonymous writer also commented on my statement that “the homecoming incident reminded me of a scene from the Civil Rights movement.” The writer stated, “PLEASE don’t insult the nobility of the Civil Rights movement by comparing it to a Homecoming Hip-Hop dance that got out of hand.” What the writer failed to comprehend is that I never compared the fight and struggle of the courageous individuals involved in the Civil Rights movement to what happened at Homecoming. I was simply stating that seeing people being hit with clubs, sprayed with pepper spray, tear gas being used, the K-9 unit being present, and people crying and running frantically trying to reach safety reminded me of what happened during the Civil Rights movement. In my statement I never insisted that we were protesting our freedom to party when we began to be oppressed by the police officers because that would be a whole other issue in itself.
These inadequate statements made by the anonymous writer once again demonstrate that they were not present at the Homecoming Party and therefore their revelation of what happened that night was extremely skewed causing them to amateurishly interpret my statement.
As I mentioned earlier the anonymous writer insisted that I get my “facts “straight before I “get on my pedestal.” I believe that I have well illustrated my facts about what happened the night at Homecoming, for I was a witness to the incident. Before I go I would like to inform this anonymous writer that I am going to stay on my pedestal because I know what is right and what is wrong and what is going on here at Bloomsburg University is WRONG whether you want to admit it or not. What happened is unfair and it is unjust and I am going to continue to voice my opinion FROM MY PEDESTAL until this wrongdoing is corrected and CHANGE OCCURS. Thank You all for taking the time to read my letter.