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Letter to the editor: Racism alive and 'well'

Recently, the distraught mother of a biracial teenage son spoke to me about what happened to him that day, before the murder of George Floyd.

He attends a local high school and lives in the Menlo Park community.

Close to tears, she recounted how he was accosted, not once, but twice, as he walked a dog in an affluent area of Menlo Park: First by two white women who asked him what he was doing there, and a short time and distance later, a white man who, saying that he was a lawyer, told him that he didn't belong there. Understandably, this time the young man spoke up to defend himself which prompted the man to call the police, who soon arrived to diffuse the situation and send each on his way.

I cringe to think what could have happened if the teen had reached for his cellphone to record the incidents, and, if any of the three, thinking that the teen was reaching for a gun, in turn had a gun. What if the teen had called police to complain of being harassed? Would he have been believed? Perhaps, but only if he had been able to document these incidents without fear.

Is this the best use of our already-limited law enforcement resources? Aren't there more urgent calls to attend to? Last, do we want this type of behavior to thrive in our community? This incident could have had a different ending, as it tragically did for Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and too many others.

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Patty New

Edison Way, Menlo Park

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Letter to the editor: Racism alive and 'well'

by / Contributor

Uploaded: Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 8:33 am
Updated: Tue, Jun 23, 2020, 10:59 am

Recently, the distraught mother of a biracial teenage son spoke to me about what happened to him that day, before the murder of George Floyd.

He attends a local high school and lives in the Menlo Park community.

Close to tears, she recounted how he was accosted, not once, but twice, as he walked a dog in an affluent area of Menlo Park: First by two white women who asked him what he was doing there, and a short time and distance later, a white man who, saying that he was a lawyer, told him that he didn't belong there. Understandably, this time the young man spoke up to defend himself which prompted the man to call the police, who soon arrived to diffuse the situation and send each on his way.

I cringe to think what could have happened if the teen had reached for his cellphone to record the incidents, and, if any of the three, thinking that the teen was reaching for a gun, in turn had a gun. What if the teen had called police to complain of being harassed? Would he have been believed? Perhaps, but only if he had been able to document these incidents without fear.

Is this the best use of our already-limited law enforcement resources? Aren't there more urgent calls to attend to? Last, do we want this type of behavior to thrive in our community? This incident could have had a different ending, as it tragically did for Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and too many others.

Patty New

Edison Way, Menlo Park

Comments

Belle Haven Resident
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:24 am
Belle Haven Resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:24 am
7 people like this

Amen! I don't know what will happen now with law enforcement/public safety in Menlo Park. I would sure like to see law enforcement redefined as one category of public safety, with limited responsibilities. I think this would happen better with a reduced and restructured MPPD than with dependence on the Sheriff's department. If we are to have (finally!) one Menlo Park it has to have one policing practice for everyone.


Peter Carpenter
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:40 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:40 am
5 people like this

If you want one standard of policing for all of Menlo Park then I think contracting with the Sheriff is a better way to go - one contract and one set of standards of policing for the entire community.


Manlo Punk
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 11:38 am
Manlo Punk, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 11:38 am
10 people like this

We need the police, but what about the racists outbursts this young person had to endure? If you are anything other than white, I am a person of ethnic heritage, brown not white, and live in Menlo Park, you have felt the sting of racism. All you have to do is walk into Draegers or down Santa Cruz Ave. and you feel and see the stares that silently ask, "What are you doing here?" How unfortunate it must be to feel so threatened that all you can do is dislike other people because they appear different than you.

I live in Menlo Park (and have for 30 years now) because I love a small town feel. It can use a facelift, but the place itself is still nice. Some people and attitudes however, will never change. No matter how many protests or what the sign you are carrying may say.


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm
10 people like this

Proposed "solutions" to police incidents of racial profiling and resulting violence may have some limited beneficial results in preventing police shootings.
But they offer no solution to the underlying problem of racism in the general populace as stated by Patty and Menlo Punk.
There is no quick fix. What is needed, what is necessary, is a change in our education. We must make sure that all children have the same educational opportunities - excellent schools, teachers and administrators - from preschool through university. I say all children because a lack of proper education contributes to biases.
Equal economic opportunity is also necessary.
These will not change most of the biases of the older populace but perhaps it will go a long way in curbing biases in the new generations. And with luck the new generations can influence the older generations.


Former Resident
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm
Former Resident, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm
4 people like this

For several years I lived on Cotton St.

My impression was that the Menlo Park police had an attitude problem beyond racial issues (being white, I did not experience the latter).

Compared to police in Redwood City and Atherton, I experienced most Menlo Park police to be less service oriented and too quick to become unnecessarily authoritative and confrontational. I felt they perceived their job as to control the community rather than to serve the community.


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