Sandpoint’s community conversation was a great idea

| June 25, 2020 1:00 AM

I admire and support the young people that ventured out to protest for BLM in Sandpoint. As a mother of three sons, it breaks my heart to imagine one of them being treated like George Floyd. Fortunately, they are all white. Two open carry and one was protecting local businesses. That puts me in an awkward position.

Though threats of organized antifa rioters coming to Sandpoint were based on social media misinformation, I hear genuine concern for the safety for our community and businesses from my son. Having grown up in Germany where only police and hunters are allowed to carry guns, it has been a long journey for me to respect responsible gun owners who feel strongly about the Second Amendment — a concept I still don’t understand, but honor.

However, hearing accounts of harassments of young peaceful protestors by camo-clad men with semi-automatic rifles and guns using racial slurs crosses the line for me. So does blanket labeling of open gun carriers as “gun-toting idiots who are trying to bully us all into submission” who are bent on starting a fascist movement similar to Nazi Germany. White supremacy presence in our community doesn’t mean that we label everyone who open carries an irresponsible vigilante.

As a new American citizen of 4 years I understand and honor the history and current importance of both the 1st and 2nd, but also the 14th. Racial injustice is not metered out by bad individuals or events. According to Dr. Robin DiAngelo racism is a systemic discrimination by one group that doesn’t perceive itself as a “race” — sanctioned by legal authority and institutional control. As white people we all perpetuate racism whether we split ourselves into good/tolerant progressives and bad vigilantes/racists or good patriots and bad antifas/communists. I commend Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon for holding a community meeting to engage the community in dialogue to address these deeper roots and would hope that Sheriff Daryl Wheeler will do the same.

GABRIELLE DUEBENDORFER, NMD

Sandpoint