Letter: Protesting for peace and justice without violence

Dear Editor, 

In response to the thoughtful letter from Rance Brode, on page 20 of the Owego Pennysaver of Aug. 9, 2020, I offer this.

You began by asking if the young people who are peacefully protesting in the Courthouse Square know what they are protesting against. Some of us who are protesting are not young and are well aware of what we are protesting against, based on a lifelong concern for issues of peace and justice, expressed in ways of non-violence. 

The young people with us (and who initiated the protest, “Black Lives Matter”) are also concerned for these very issues of peace and justice.

You raised many issues (too many to respond to in this letter). Let me say that our party affiliations are variable, as are our religious and personal feelings. The current protest, as our signs say, is to encourage people to consider whether they harbor feelings of racism. The murder of George Floyd by a white policeman shows how such feelings can be present in deadly ways.

I’d like to respond to one issue you raised, that of the destruction of statues of Confederate “heroes.” I agree with many that it would be better to put such statues together in a museum setting (so as to illuminate that aspect of our national history). But those of us who are white should consider the following quote from the former mayor of New Orleans, Mitchell Landrieu, about a statue of Lee removed from an obelisk in the city:

“Consider these monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story?”

The source of this quote is an editorial by Peter W. Marty, editor / publisher of the Christian Century, July 29, 2020, page 3. Marty acknowledges that, ”Imperfect people founded this country, but they founded it on principles that made slavery’s eradication inevitable.”

Slavery has technically been eradicated, but racism remains. Those of us who are white have a special need to continue the quest to eradicate it, in non-violent ways, thus seeking liberty and justice for all. This is what “Black Lives Matter” is all about.


Judy Bjorkman 

Owego, N.Y.

1 Comment on "Letter: Protesting for peace and justice without violence"

  1. Rance D Brode | August 18, 2020 at 8:34 am | Reply

    thank-you for your response and I compliment you on educating me. I made a mistake when I wrote on my letter “to the young” people….There was no intent in this, the very fact is the times I drove by the courtyard, all I saw were couple of young people, so I stand corrected.

    I do take exception to an insinuation that I might consider the statues as “heroes”. This was determined by the people of that period in time and in NO WAY reflect my beliefs.

    I assure you that I always have, and continue, to support equality for all regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference and fully believe that All Lives Matter.

    I fully support you and your group on peacefully protesting to continue to help our country evolve (A word I used several times in my letter). I remain very concerned about the senseless violence that is associated with the movement.

    Good luck to you and your fellow supporters in your noble cause. I’m likely done now, as it is apparent to me there are much larger complicated implications and political agendas in play that we wont agree on.

    I thank the Pennysaver for allowing us to publicly exchange our thoughts

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