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Letter: 'All Lives Matter' and 'Black Lives Matter' not mutually exclusive

Letter: 'All Lives Matter' and 'Black Lives Matter' not mutually exclusive

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Of course Black lives matter.

52 years ago at the age of 28, I was very quickly “booted” out of a small rural town in South Carolina to a large metropolitan city up north because I volunteered to fund a law suit against the local YMCA who would not allow a young Black man a membership. I did this because I wanted the system to work the way it should in the courts and not in the streets with a mob. I mention this to help the reader understand were I have stood my entire life on "Black Lives Matter."

However, I am deeply saddened by the recent article in The News Virginian.

First of all, there is no excuse for defacing a sign or statue you consider offensive. By law, we are all entitled to our opinions and free speech in this country even if it’s considered offensive. Of course, public symbols may only be modified by legal means to ensure we do not descend in to mob rule.

Secondly, we must recognize “All Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter” are not mutually exclusive. Certainly, some consider either slogan racially insensitive, but lives matter. We all need to ensure the police treat everyone appropriately, and I do recognize how this fits into the BLM narrative. If you wonder about my word “appropriately” please put it in context of my recent letter on why stereotypes matter and recent events in Chicago.

Lastly, I am disturbed that the clergy would make an accusation without proof of who the vandal was or their motive. As I noted earlier, there is no excuse for vandalism, but it seems appropriate to consider all the motives that might have triggered the event. The dialogue on this was inflammatory and not intended to defuse — a sad commentary on a comment from the clergy. Let us all take a deep breath, count to 10 and consider our motives and how to achieve them. Yelling never convinced anyone but is very effective with a mob.

One last note: I have not seen the sign up close but it appears to be defaced with a marking pen that might be removed with a little solvent.

John S. R. Lawrence


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