An Open Letter to the People Of Prineville
It seems like our recent video about the Prineville police working with the racist counter protesters has gotten a lot of attention from the citizens of Prineville. We feel it would be a missed opportunity to let that attention go by without engaging in some meaningful dialog. In that spirit, we’d like to go point by point on a few of the questions and concerns we read in our comments, and hear on the streets at protests. You’re not going to like all of the answers, but that’s ok. We can do this together. Here we go:
“Why Prineville? Why do you keep coming to our town causing trouble?”
Protests have been happening all around Central Oregon. This is one big community, and almost everywhere in this community the demonstrations have been peaceful and productive. In other towns people may disagree, but nobody is worried about getting shot. It is ONLY in Prineville where people are hanging nooses in their yard. It is ONLY in Prineville where people come out waving the Confederate flag of treason and failure. It is ONLY in Prineville where people drive by shouting “white power”, and “go back to Africa” and other racial and homophbic slurs unfit for publishing.
Why Prineville? Because Prineville is who needs the protests the most. We’ll stop coming back when y’all stop showing us how badly you need us there.
“Go back to Portland!”
Sorry, but we live here. The Peacekeepers are from Prineville, Bend, Redmond, Sisters and all over Central Oregon. We’re from here, and we’re not leaving.
“Not everybody in Prineville is a racist.”
Of course they aren’t. We’re sure that MOST of the good people of Prineville are decent, hard working people who don’t hate Black people. Let’s be clear on this. The Peacekeepers absolutely agree with you that most of the people in Prineville are decent and good. But see above. Some of them are waving Confederate flags, hanging nooses, shouting racial slurs, and other behavior that lets us know Prineville needs us to keep coming back.
“All lives matter!”
Of course they do, but right now we’re focusing on Black lives because Black people experience systemic racism and disproportionate violence from police. When people raise money for breast cancer research, they aren’t saying that other kinds of cancer don’t matter. When you sing happy birthday to someone, you aren’t saying other birthdays don’t matter. All anyone is saying is that Black lives matter AS MUCH as other lives. They matter as much as YOUR life, dear neighbor. The Peacekeepers believe you matter, and we believe Black Lives Matter.
“You hate the police!”
Not at all. We’re just tired of government over-reach, and we have a feeling many of our neighbors in Prineville probably feel the same way. We believe that a lack of accountability in law enforcement is harming everyone. We think the police use too much force on EVERYONE. It happens to be true that they disproportionately use force against people of color. That needs to change.
“You’re just a bunch of Antifa trouble makers.”
The Peacekeepers are, emphatically, Anti-Fascist. Aren’t you?
“You hate America! You hate God! You hate the Second Amendment!”
Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. Many Peacekeepers are veterans. Most of us enjoy shooting sports and are proud gun owners. Every single time we go out to a protest, there are a team of local pastors we call, and we find their support to be absolutely vital to what we do. Despite what you might have been told, we do what we do because we LOVE America. Don’t you?
This is far from an exhaustive list of the questions and concerns we receive, but maybe it will help clear a few things up. Even as we get ready to publish this open letter, we know for sure that there will be the usual responses. Tough guys with Punisher Skull profile pictures who never learned how to process their feelings will use the “laugh” react. Angry people who didn’t read the letter will make wild accusations about Antifa buses, George Souros checks, Marxism, and probably some other silliness we can’t even predict. This letter will get hateful responses in the comments. It will make people uncomfortable.
We’re OK with that.
While we are dedicated to Peace, we need you...dear neighbor...to understand that Peace is not necessarily the same thing as comfort. If some of what you read here made you uncomfortable and inspired you to fire off an angry comment...good.
That means we’ve accomplished our mission. We have you involved in the conversation.
The Central Oregon Peacekeepers