We Must Have Justice

Windsor Democratic Town Chair Adam Gutcheon has issued the following statement:

My heart is heavy with sorrow and shame today. Windsor has seen so much death recently. Public health precautions meant to save lives have become yet another wearying culture war. And now, American cities are on fire. Our beautiful, beloved country is experiencing its worst public health crisis since 1918, its worst economic collapse since 1929, and its worst civil disorder since 1968. What we all feared when Donald Trump became president is coming true.

That Trump’s Electoral College victory was literally a case of minority rule was a portent of things to come. But Donald Trump did not invent racism; bullying, thuggery, know-nothingism, and casual brutality did not spring from the earth in January 2017. Trump merely articulates a baseness and vileness that was just under the surface of American life, and that neither party has found politically convenient to directly confront in over 50 years. Even now, Democratic leaders in this country are failing to adjust their time-honored tradition of coddling and pandering to white reactionaries. (It is breathtaking how quickly our political leadership, usually so deeply divided, can come together as a united front when property gets damaged. We are the party of civil rights–until a window gets broken.)

The President of the United States has been openly encouraging police to escalate their brutality for over three years, yet Democratic mayors and governors, to their lasting shame, are putting police and National Guard troops in a position to do just that under rules of engagement whose inevitable outcome is more suffering and death. They’ve even been parroting old segregationist rhetoric blaming “outside agitators” for riots in their cities and states. Which is worse: being so ignorant of our history that Democrats in high office don’t know this trope has its origins with Bull Connor and George Wallace, or knowing it and saying it anyway?

To the extent there are “outside agitators,” it is alt-right gangs roaming the streets in search of a race war like Freikorps of the 1920s–but make no mistake, the violence in our cities is almost entirely homegrown. Across the country, black communities are erupting in rage and despair at how little the white power structure cares about their lives and honor; at the indignities and violence visited on them by the agents of that power structure, the police. We cannot defend or promote or glamorize riot. But we can understand it, assisted by our sorrow.

What is to be done? Where do we go from here? What can we do here in Windsor to ensure our community fulfills its professed values of dignity, justice, and peace? It’s not for me to dictate the answers to these questions, but what I can tell you is that answering them will be a concerted effort communitywide in scope and outlasting in duration today’s flames of destruction. And I know this: we must listen. We must hear the cries of our neighbors and brothers and sisters in pain without turning away, without hardening our hearts, without retreating from the ugliness of the fight and ceding the field.

And we must demand the courage to keep up the fight from our elected Democrats at every level. I pledge to use my position to do so. This DTC chair is officially out of patience. Stay tuned for more announcements on this matter.