Agitators are not helping us heal

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary impacted the entire nation. In its immediate aftermath, our community received an astounding volume of support. Money, food, mental health services and countless other acts of charity piled into the city. Now, however, as evidenced by the latest city council meeting, another form of unhelpful support has found its way to our doorstep.

Two of the men who spoke at the meeting came armed more for confrontation than change. Their message was clear, if not repetitive: The city’s police department failed to immediately breach the classrooms where 19 children and two teachers had been gunned down. For that, at least one of the speakers insisted that every officer who was at the scene on May 24 be immediately terminated.

The families of victims continue to make similar requests. They want accountability, and while investigations and due process hearings grind on, their impatience is entirely understandable. No one can lose a child or cherished wife to such horrific violence and not demand that the city’s most important institutions step up for them.

One of the men at Tuesday’s meeting, a self-described investigative journalist and civil rights activist named Jack Miller of Kirby, threatened council members with a recall election if they did not immediately meet his demands. He added that it would be expensive to clear out the police department but that there was not a citizen in the room who would not “sign the check.”

Another speaker, who said he flew and drove to Uvalde from New York, also assailed council members. He insisted the failure of Uvalde police had put law enforcement across the nation at risk. According to reporting from the Buffalo News, Daniel Warmus of Aiden, New York, pleaded guilty on May 23 in federal court for unlawful parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

We will be among the first to stand for first amendment rights of free speech, but those who choose to travel to Uvalde to assault our officials are guided by an agenda that serves no purpose in helping our community to heal. These people are motivated by hearing their own self-important voices magnified by our national tragedy. 

To suggest that our voters recall officials would be laughable, if it weren’t so toxic. Truth is there is probably not a person on the city council or school board who would not jump at the chance to the removed from this soul-grinding experience.

Conservative social media personality Alex Stein railed at city council members during a July meeting, screaming his opinions of their “failed leadership” so loudly that family members of the fallen began crying. After shouting his speech he departed, and shaken family members of those shot at Robb expressed strong disapproval of his methods and motives.

In the end officials will get it right. The city has pledged to take whatever action is recommended by an independent review of the police department. Former school police chief Pete Arredondo will make his case in a formal hearing. The Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office is not under review, though the county and the sheriff jointly agreed to commission an independent review after the DPS investigation is finished. The sheriff’s fate will ultimately be determined by the voters.

Our officials know what is at stake. It is the future heart and soul of the community. Getting from here to there is what carries so much pain.