MY TURN: Love for community will see us through
While many of us are hoping to emerge from the fog of a coronavirus shutdown and the local effects on our income and lifestyle, another unimaginable incident has occurred which has brought a heightened sense of anxiety across the nation.
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of an outlier in the law enforcement community has enraged people across the United States and beyond, and for good reason. It is disturbing that people of color have been disproportionately impacted by brutality from law enforcement, as they are also disproportionately impacted by COVID19.
The cumulation of these events reveal to us again the need to reexamine our social, political, judicial and healthcare systems to ensure we are equally representing all citizens, and living up to our American principles. No one should be singled out by their skin color, whether it be by law enforcement, or a virus that ravages through a community isolated from access to good healthcare.
In Cottonwood, we have an outstanding and ethical police department, and we are fortunate to live in a community that is tight knit and close. Obviously, we are not perfect, and there are bad people that do bad things in our city.
However, when use of force is required (which it very rarely is) we make it very transparent in annual reports available to every citizen. We encourage the use of vehicle and body cameras and we do our best to provide our local Police Department with all the tools they need to keep us all safe. Our chief and his commanders believe in community policing and the neighborhood officer program they have started helps support this philosophy as well as the National Night Out program and countless other programs and events the department either plans or participates in to prove our law enforcement is part of our community.
I have witnessed true heroism from our first responders who are integrated into the fabric of our community. Because of their selfless duty, their oath, and their willingness to step in for public health and public safety, we are a stronger community.
The lawlessness witnessed across the nation is inexcusable. Even Mr. Floyd’s brother condemns this behavior, as it won’t bring his brother back. What’s important is what we do in the days and weeks that follow.
Atrocities like the murder of George Floyd and impacts from a pandemic can divide or unite us. We have come together as a Verde Valley community to limit the impacts of the coronavirus and we’ve done remarkably well. This took lots of self-sacrifice, hard work, patience and neighborliness that seems natural for us in this beautiful community. We are being asked to step up similarly to show one another that we can look beyond the fear and anxiety and come together united.
The brutality that occurred last Monday in Minneapolis, and before in many other U.S. cities, has not unfolded here in Cottonwood. Yet, they are felt by us, and trouble us deeply.
Our law enforcement has been vigilant and accountable, and we have not experienced this sort of violence first hand. Let’s remember that we are fortunate, and that we are a community deeply rooted in diversity.
I ask all of you to funnel frustration and anger toward a positive outcome. Positive change cannot come from a clash of polar opposites. It is a healthy, sustained dialogue that meets in the middle which can bring about the reform that many of us recognize is needed.
As troubling and uncertain as these times are, they present us with an opportunity to be beacons of hope for the others around us who may be experiencing darkness.
Let’s not succumb to division. Take a moment to reach out and say thank you to one of our local heroes, for example Officer Matt Strickland, who is eager to get back to work after sustaining an injury from a shotgun blast while protecting one of our neighborhoods from an unstable resident. Check out MOhelp.org, and volunteer with the fine folks at Manzanita Outreach to assist in a food drive to the Navajo Nation.
Find ways to celebrate the history and diversity in our Verde Valley, and to heal wounds which may be generational. We’ve been through a lot in this valley, but we have come ahead united.
I am confident we will remain united, and our love for community will see us through.
Tim Elinski is the mayor of Cottonwood
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