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John Andersen: Searching for a peaceful September
COMMUNITY COLUMNIST

John Andersen: Searching for a peaceful September

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I am conflicted by a variety of emotions and really don’t know where to start.

We are at the beginning of September.

September will be the month it has always been, a month of transition. From the musical “The Fantasticks” we have the words, “Try to remember the kind of September, When life was slow and oh, so mellow.”

Well, as they say that is not going to feed the bulldog in 2020.

Please excuse me for being crass but as I write this, the total for the past two weeks is this: One 17-year-old child in custody for shooting an AR-15 during a protest. One 29-year-old man shot in the back seven times. Two protestors — men ages 26 and 36 — dead.

Going to the West Coast, we have a 39-year-old protester dead and his accused assailant — a 48-year-old man — also dead. Only the man who was shot in the back seven times was Black.

Black Lives Matter was not involved in any shootings, so super patriots on both sides have done all the shooting and the dying. The president of the United States has flown into Kenosha, as has former Vice President Joe Biden.

This would be ironic if it all was not so tragic.

In Wisconsin, the governor called a special session to address policing and protests; it was adjourned in about 30 seconds. I believe Wisconsin can return to a part-time Legislature again. We seem to be doing OK without it meeting anyway.

Yes, there was a protest in Eau Claire. The protest was a joint effort by the Eau Claire Justice League, Uniting Bridges, United We Assemble and Eau Claire Rise Up as a way to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and demand justice for Jacob Blake.

We in Chippewa Falls and Hallie continued on with our day.

If Alta Bragg was still with us in Hallie, I do believe she would have gotten the kettle boiling a bit. Alta was always active with groups involving social justice and politics. At one time, Alta was president of the League of Women Voters of Eau Claire County, on the founding boards of Group Health Cooperative, Chippewa Valley Citizens for Choice.

She served on committees of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Alta saw through nonsense, and in her gentle but firm way pointed out nonsense for what it often was: fear.

The Unitarian Universalist Church believes strongly in: The inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion are needed in human relations, acceptance of one another, free and responsible search for truth and meaning with peace, liberty and justice.

Alta would be proud to point out that the key to any relationship was to insure the worth and dignity of the people you would come in contact with on a daily basis.

She did so in her business and she did so with those she disagreed with. At the heart of our troubles today is a basic unwillingness to accept people who we think are less worthy than we are.

We do not seek justice yet we are consumed with fear.

I came of age under President Richard Nixon or “Tricky Dick” as he was called back then.

President Nixon was a master of making people afraid, very afraid of crime and civil unrest. With his war on crime and the war on drugs came police that resemble a platoon of Marines out on patrol.

With it came no-knock warrants and a huge mistrust of people who don’t look like us. If it is all the same with you, I bought the ticket to that movie once and I don’t want to see the movie again.

Let’s reconcile in our minds that we support good cops and good protestors. We cannot support bad cops or protestors who loot and burn.

We can do both without demonizing every cop or protestor. Thomas Jefferson once said “ If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.”

It is time for the fire department to arrive. I am sure Alta would have approved.

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