Letters to the Editor March 7, 2018

Commendation and healing

I commend the courage and leadership shown by the four Arcata City Councilmembers who voted to remove the McKinley statue from the Plaza (Opposition to City Council’s McKinley removal decision begins to emerge, Feb. 24). Though it was (and will continue to be) difficult, they have struck at least one small blow to the dominant culture of patriarchy and white supremacy that we are all living under.

I know Sofia Pereira to be one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know, and I take offense to the tone of Michael Winkler’s letter on her behalf. Unfortunately it’s far from rare for women in positions of leadership to face this kind of condescending treatment from their male co-workers.

I assume based on what I know of Mayor Pereira that she understands the deep wounds that colonialism and racism have inflicted on our community, and that she recognizes the importance of allowing those hurts to be aired and hopefully rectified. This process is ugly and uncomfortable – but not nearly as ugly and uncomfortable as the long list of atrocities that have been perpetrated against indigenous people on these lands over the past two hundred years.

Every bit of the wealth and prosperity that we currently enjoy on this country is based on the oppression and extinction of native people and people of color. None of the land on which our homes and businesses sit would be “ours” had it not been viciously taken through the genocide of indigenous people. The wealth that has passed to us (primarily white people) generation to generation was only made possible through the murder of native people and the exploitation of slave labor. Like it or not, that is the reality of our current economic system.

In this context, Dan Hauser’s assertion that “it would be totally unfair and unreasonable to promote this effort with City funds,” would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. Has he no understanding that every dollar collected by the city for hundreds of years is tainted with the suffering of indigenous families? Apparently not.

We, as white people, have a lot of work to do. At a bare minimum, we need to learn to be OK allowing the victims of this systemic violence and exploitation to be mad. What other reaction could they possibly have to the knowledge that their parents and grandparents suffered so mercilessly in this, their home country? What other reaction should we expect in the face of the statistics showing that nearly 30 percent of Native Americans live below the poverty line, and that Native Americans are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group? Hopefully once we master the ability to allow space for this anger, we can move into productive conversations about how to create a future that is very, very different from our past. But we won’t get there if we continue to demonize oppressed people any time they display justifiable anger.

Removing the statue isn’t about “erasing our history”; it’s about listening to the voices of those whose lives have been the most harshly impacted by that history, and following their lead about what can be done to begin to heal these deep wounds so we can move forward

If anyone would like to watch the Feb. 21 City Council meeting in question, you can do so through Access Humboldt’s website, accesshumboldt.net; the incident around which your recent article centered begins around minute 58.

Tamara McFarland
Cooperation Humboldt Board Member

Dump Trump, not McK

There is a group who is spending a great amount of time and energy working to have the statue of President McKinley removed from the Arcata Plaza. This group has successfully lobbied the Arcata City Council, who voted 4 to 1 for approval of the move.

A former councilmember has stated that removing McKinley will have a high cost and be very time consuming, with both state and local approvals required.

I believe this time and energy should be spent to remove the current president from office. President McKinley died long ago. He can no longer harm us, but Mr. Trump is on course to damage not only our county and our state, but the entire planet.

Space restrictions don’t allow me to list the many immoral things he stands for and has done that make him unworthy to be the leader of the United States.

I hope I haven’t offended Trump supporters, but at this point, I don’t care if I have. Not speaking out means I condone and support the damage he has done and will continue to do to our democracy.

Leave McKinley were he is and remove Mr. Trump from where he is.
Scott R. Baker

Scoreboard shaming

Former Arcata Mayor Dan Hauser should be ashamed for claiming that the Arcata City Council “got rolled” at the recent council meeting, where the council voted 4-1 to remove the McKinley statue.

Let’s review the actual democratic process that took place. Over the past year, several community meetings were held to gauge public opinion on a variety of proposed changes for the Plaza. Attendees overwhelmingly expressed a desire for the McKinley statue to be removed.

A group in favor of removing the statue started a petition campaign and eventually gathered about 1,800 signatures. People opposing the removal gathered none. Score: 1,800 to 0.

I advocated for the removal of the statue by standing with a sign near the Plaza for an average of an hour a day for 26 days. The number of anti-removal protesters? None. Score: 26 to 0.

The number of tribes that support the removal of the statue as shown by representatives and members who attended the council meeting or who sent a letter stating such support: 15. The number of tribes wanting the statue to remain? None. Score: 15 to 0.

Number of people who attended the council meeting who clearly supported the statue being removed: About 150. Number of people who attended the council meeting who clearly wanted the statue to remain: 1. That’s 150 to 1.

In the face of overwhelming support to remove the statue, the council voted 4-1 to remove the statue. That is the democratic process in action.

People opposed to removing the statue had an equal chance to make their voices heard but decided to largely sit out the process. As it turns out, that was a losing strategy and they lost the council vote fair and square.

The post-vote, too-little, too-late complaints by Mr. Hauser and others opposed to removing the statue are anti-democratic, disingenuous and come off as privileged, petty and sour grapes.

Fhyre Phoenix

Make Bill a ride

All this talk about whether the McKinley statue should stay on the Arcata Plaza and talk about how can we make the Plaza more secure and attractive to families, locals and tourists, makes me think about an idea I’ve had for years for attracting people to Arcata: lets put an EARTHQUAKE RIDER on the Plaza. So what is an earthquake rider? Simply put, it’s a 10 ft metal pipe (1.5 inch in diameter) stuck into the ground at both ends about five feet apart, and then bent up in the middle into a loop about three feet off the grass, so that whoever is on the Plaza when an earthquake happens could hold onto the pipe and RIDE THE EARTHQUAKE. There’s a webcam on the Plaza to record it and people all over the world could watch the whole thing over and over. We would be the only city in the world to have an earthquake rider. It could go in the center of the Plaza or off to the side. It would attract tourists, kids could play on it, and it would make the idea of earthquakes a bit more fun. Who wouldn’t want to ride an earthquake and then see yourself doing it online? We could have a sculpture contest to make it look more artistic and get the community involved. We could do online fund raising to help pay for it. I don’t mean to trivialize the danger of big earthquakes, it’s just that they’re inevitable here on the North Coast, so why don’t we take some of the fear away from worrying about the next big one. Let’s enjoy the prospect of being able to ride some of the smaller ones in between. Riding an earthquake could be like a giant game of musical chairs, where everyone who is on the plaza when an earthquake happens would all playfully fight for a place at the EARTHQUAKE RIDER.

Rocky Drill


The McKinley distraction

John Wiebe, (Letters, Feb. 21) is apparently unaware of the 40-foot statue of William McKinley at the entrance to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

He wears a Roman toga and laurels. His right hand bearing an olive branch is raised high; his left is at his breast grasping a double-edged broadsword down to his feet. I am unaware of any attempt to remove him.

Many/most of us are grandchildren or great grandchildren of the people who murdered and raped native Turtle Islanders without compassion.

I live near Squaw Creek, so named because native women did their laundry here (not!).

Indigenous people currently suffer severe poverty, inadequate education and now potential starvation due to overfishing in the ocean of their salmon runs. A community on the rocks, and not because a lighthouse moved.

We cannot change history, but we can act; that our children won’t want to.

Unless old Bill is mounted next to the “World’s Largest Totem Pole” (Horses have the right of way) and a real discussion of race ensues, Bill’s removal is a distraction from the real work our society needs to do.

His presence is a reminder of that work, and his significance will fade when he is no longer needed.

Why is made in Canada or made in Mexico not make in America?

This letter is in loving tribute to John Trudell.

Christopher Mackinney


Weaponizing mental illness

I’ve been reading that some elected officials propose that our mass-shooting problem might be remedied by expanding services for the mentally ill.

I’m a mental health professional and I think expanding the sorely threadbare system of mental health services is a great idea, especially for the severely mentally ill.  But it is unlikely to make more than a dent in the problem of mass shootings.

Most experienced mental health professionals will tell you that, absent a person actually expressing intent to commit harm, predicting violent behavior is one of the most challenging tasks they may face.  There are no subtle clues or sophisticated psychological tests that reliably differentiate those who will go on to commit murder from those who are simply hateful and maladjusted and may act in less harmful ways.  And I think most of us will agree that locking people up for long periods of time for actions that they may or may not undertake is itself a very dangerous proposal.

This focus on mental illness as the cause of gun violence also serves to further stigmatize people who experience mental illness.  The fact is that most mentally ill people are no more dangerous than anyone else.

In my personal opinion, if there is one bright point in our current sad situation it may be that at least we are not facing homicidal maniacs wielding tanks, rocket launchers, or cannons to blast our schools and public spaces.  But we know why that is.  Outside military control, no one has access to such weapons.  Which might give us a clue as to what we might actually do to reduce mass killings: eliminate access to highly lethal automatic weapons which really belong only on a battlefield.

Patrick Carr


Give Congress armbands

There have been many mass shootings in recent years; the largest being the Las Vegas shooting last fall with 59 fatalities and another 422 injured, and the most recent being the high school shooting in Parkland Florida with 17 dead.

Each time there has been public outrage calling for Congressional action to limit access to assault rifles. But Congress can’t agree on how to respond. Those on the right see this as a mental health issue. They are willing to offer support for the affected families and survivors.

The minority on the left responds with “enough already” and seeks Congressional action to address the issue of assault rifle access head on. So nothing changes. Support is offered with flags flown at half-staff for a few days while the matter soon disappears from Congressional attention. But I think that Congress has been getting off too easy.

I propose that all members of Congress be required to wear a two-color black-green armband after each shooting for the same number of days as there were people killed and injured. The black is to acknowledge all victims and the green is to remind Congress members that it’s time to get going and do something.

If this measure were adopted retroactive to last fall, all members of Congress would be wearing armbands well into 2019 at a minimum. With this constant reminder, perhaps the two sides could get together and come up with a joint approach to address the mass shooting problem before then.

Sherman Schapiro
Blue Lake


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