As Ugly As It Gets

An  “06880” reader writes:

This item was tossed onto my driveway sometime between 7 p.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today. The note was folded in quarters in the plastic bag. The pebbles presumably were added to keep the whole thing from blowing away.

Here is that item:

White Lives Matter

Similar notes were discovered in Milford, more than a week ago.

Has anyone else found these in Westport? Has anyone heard anything about them?

Suddenly, the anger in Ferguson and Baltimore — and the backlash to it — does not seem so far away at all.

50 responses to “As Ugly As It Gets

  1. I am in shock. What’s going on and what does this really mean? Better yet, how do we stop it?

  2. As it’s been said “Not in my town” yet someone has some pent up anger and too much time on their hands. Is it random or specific? It IS pretty scary though…it was in the news a few days ago.

  3. Bobbie Herman

    Is that a hashtag? Can someone check it out on Twitter? I don’t have a Twitter account.

  4. This just came in from a reader, who asked me to post her comment: “Just got back from a bike ride on Compo Road South and saw several more on driveways or lawns between the road shoulder and a fence.

  5. In my humble opinion, the “United States of America” is the most racist country in the entire modern world. Fascinating that it is considered most influential/powerful. Lying through the Constitution/Bill of Rights teeth.
    Why differentiate between skin colour (or religion, for that matter)?
    Why just one culture i.e. “American”?

  6. Jill Greenberg

    I am not sure How to organize my thinking about this in a way that makes for productive commentary. However ,I would like to toss out an idea to you, which we can then perhaps take further. Rather than hand wringing , shame, anger, and just general fretting why can’t we take a pro-active stance? I am not well connected in town, as you are, so I am uncertain where to begin, but perhaps now we can start a real community conversation including town leaders, clergy, the police and fire department, and TEAM Westport. Maybe even some school representatives.

    Any thoughts about how to quickly make the necessary connections and organize folks? Regards, Jill Greenberg >

    • Great idea, Jill. I am sure some clergy, town leaders and TEAM Westport members will respond soon to you. Just click “Reply” — let’s get this going!

    • Brett Aronow

      Jill – we are working as a community on the response and a call to action. I will add you to our list! If you are on Facebook like Friends of TEAM Westport for more information to come.

  7. You know, I just keep saying, “ALL lives, indeed, all LIFE matters…from womb to tomb, no matter the age or the color.” When are we gonna figure that out? We’re smarter than this…it’s so sad.

    • Jamie Walsh

      Absolutely Susan! You nailed it! All lives matter Black, White, Indian, Asian, Purple,Pink, Gay, Transexual…whatever. We have become a little to PC as a society as a whole.

    • Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

      YEP

    • Well said Susan. It is a shame how people always go back to being tribal and seeing themselves as separate than another group. All Lives Matter. Further I would question why there is no outrage over the daily murder that is occurring in Chicago, related to gang violence. If people are so concerned with just Black Lives how about trying to address the larger cause of Black murder. With that said I understand the frustration of some regarding police brutality. On the other side the police have a tough and thankless job especially in urban areas. Adoption of body cameras will benefit all of society, in my opinion.

  8. Susan huppi

    How about all lives matter!! I wish we would all appreciate and respect one another!

  9. Alison J. B. Patton

    Yes, Jill, I agree. This kind of hate speech requires a clear, proactive response. I’ll reach out to clergy colleagues and Harold Bailey of TEAM Westport for their ideas. Will watch for suggestions posted here, too. in the meantime, if anyone is looking for resources to help out in conversations about #BlackLivesMatter – its meaning and origin, take a look at this episode of the podcast,The Good Fight: http://thegoodfight.fm/episodes/40-why-blacklivesmatter

  10. I’m surprised anyone is shocked by this. If you’ve paid attention to the career of Roger Ailes, this kind of despicable behavior is an outgrowth of the white resentment and white fear he has looked to stir up going back decades–at least as far back as the infamous Willie Horton ad. There is truly nothing new here and, unfortunately, it exists in too many places.

  11. Who cares about Roger Ailes – How many black family’s currently live in Westport? When I was growing up there, there was only 1 black family and they lived on Hales Court which was well… you probably know the rest.
    How much change has there been in the past 50 years?
    This is one of the reasons that I moved away.

    • Jan, I don’t know when you moved away but my family moved here in 1963 in large part because the community did not have the kind of discrimination that existed at that time in a couple of nearby towns. There weren’t a lot of black families in Westport then–although certainly more than one–but it was at my synagogue here in Westport where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was welcomed with open arms in 1964; and it was our local rabbi, Byron Rubinstein, who joined Dr. King in a protest in St. Augustine and was jailed with him there. This was an open community by that point.

      • Hi Fred,
        I moved away in 1966 and went to college in Charleston, West Virginia.. The only black family that I knew of was living on Hales Court as I had mentioned before..
        I went to school with the 3 kids from the family and graduated from Staples with them.
        It sounds like you may be familiar with Birchwood Country Club also? I worked there in 1965.
        I feel pretty clear about my memories.
        Your thoughts?

        • No, I wasn’t familar with Birchwood. I never set foot inside there. We used to go to Longshore, which is where I ultimately worked during high school and college. I graduated from Staples in ’71.

  12. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Just for the sake of argument…
    why is the statement ‘White Lives Matter’ now considered a racist statement anymore than ‘Black Lives Matter’?
    I teach my children that ALL LIVES MATTER. Isn’t that what we all want to promote?
    Until the true intentions of the person distributing the flyers is known why jump to any conclusion. We as a culture are piling onto the shoulders of todays children mixed messages and the guilt of many previous generations. Sadly there is much work to bring everyone together but lets pick our battles wisely.

    • Agreed. I think it’s jumping to conclusions to assume the subtext here was that white lives matter more than black lives. Don’t all lives matter equally?

    • Alex Kuhner

      “White lives matter” is racist because it is clearly meant to denigrate the “black lives matter” message by implying that blacks are either lying about their conditions or are getting what they deserve.

      If our officers treated people the way the minority of officers treat people in impoverished areas, and our young people were put away for drugs or minor offenses (and we didn’t have the money to buy them out of it) you can bet this same person would be up in arms. And if we scaled fines so that a $300 fine for a person in poverty was the equivalent percentage of a rich person’s income and you had to choose between paying it and paying the heating bill you can bet everyone would be protesting too.
      Pretending that blacks are treated equally and implying that they are exaggerating or get what they deserve is undoubtedly racist.

    • Dale Nordling

      Bruce, You’re absolutely right. All lives matter equally.
      However, white Americans are not being racially profiled by police, or gunned down in large numbers. Black Americans are being harassed and killed by police in highly questionable circumstances. Every week it seems we read about new incidents–thus the need for the reminder that “Black Lives Matter.”
      I think the statement “White lives matter” is really pointless on it’s own. It is a defensive (and probably racist) reaction to the “Black Lives Matter” statements and banners we’re seeing, and *those* are needed.

  13. Michael Alpert

    Racism is born out of ignorance – plain and simple. My bi-racial family moved to Westport in 2010 and while it may never integrated enough, it’s more integrated today than it was yesterday and will be even more integrated tomorrow.

    Having grown up on the CT shoreline in the 70s, I am happy with the way racial barriers are falling in the area. Ignorance is infinite, but Westport is more warm and welcoming than even I expected.

    If we all teach are children well, stupid incidences like this will only help us grow more aware.

  14. I’m sorry to be commenting so late but my text to Dan at noon yesterday didn’t get delivered until after 6 pm. Luckily some other Westporter had already alerted him. (Dan Woog is our Town Crier, IMHO.) I called the police immediately around 9 am and the dispatcher totally rebuffed my call. “All lives matter” was her reply. She said I could bring the flyer into the Police Department, but when we did around 10 am, the officer at the desk also thought this was not important and told me he didn’t want to keep the flyer, ziploc bag and stones to show anyone. Alex Kuhner’s comment coincides with why I felt so unsafe in a town that could pass these out: ““White lives matter” is racist because it is clearly meant to denigrate the “black lives matter” message by implying that blacks are either lying about their conditions or are getting what they deserve.”

    • I want everyone to know that I got the chance to listen to my call on Thursday morning to the Police Dept. and *I* was the first one to comment, “All lives matter”, and not the dispatcher. She agreed with me, but I am sorry to give the wrong impression. I just didn’t feel she was taking this racist flyer seriously, but her job is just to gather information and then send out an officer. Because my husband and I had an appt. at Town Hall, I told her I would drop off the flyer. And the officer at the P.D. isn’t supposed to take any evidence but to have me file a complaint with an officer, which I didn’t have time to do. So please excuse my MISinformation in this wonderful blog.

  15. Chris Grimm

    Clearly “White Lives Matter” is a racist response to “Black Lives Matter,” but “All Lives Matter” is hardly any better. It is not like there is rampant discrimination against white people nor are white people disproportionately the victims of police violence or do they suffer disproportionately high rates of incarceration than others.

    “All Lives Matter” is (to me) insipid – it ignores the specific problem (largely, violence against young African American men) and would seem like a way for white people to try to make themselves the center of a narrative which is not their own. And that is especially rich in Westport.

    In a Town that is 92.5% white (making Westport whiter than North Dakota), hand-wringing about how this goes against our values of diversity and acceptance is completely disingenuous. We may be able to talk the talk, but we sure don’t walk the walk. Certainly there are many fine individuals doing many great things – but as a community, we need to stop congratulating ourselves on how progressive we are.

    • well said! My point exactly! Westport, you have not come a long way since 1966… .

      • Jan, I see tha you work in real estate in Sonoma County–whose population is less than 2% black. So, first of all, I don’t understand why you felt compelled to move from Westport in 1966 and then wound up in Sonoma County. And since you work in real estate, what is it that you are suggesting needs to be done in Westport (and, I suppose, Sonoma County) to increase the percentage of the black population in those areas? Do you think there needs to be a change in zoning? A commitment from government to build more affordable state-subsidized housing in these areas? Or perhaps something else? I assume you are not suggesting there has been racial steering by real estate brokers in either Westport or Sonoma County.

        • Chris Grimm

          I’m not going to speak for Jan, but speaking for myself, it is not about the make-up of Westport, but of the self-congradulatory attitude of Westporters who act as if we live in some progressive oasis. That is simply stupid, when you consider the make-up of Town. It is easy to proclaim how much you embrace diversity when you live in a town full of white one-percenters. I’m not saying that Town should do one thing or another to “enforce” diversity upon it – I’m saying that people need to quietly and personally contemplate where they live. I would have hoped that Westporters were upset about Ferguson, Staten Island, and Baltimore, before a three word piece of paper was tossed in a few driveways.

  16. Dale Nordling

    There may be fingerprints inside the bags….
    In my California city, one must have a permit to toss these plastic bags (filled with an advertising message and a few pebbles) and if they don’t, they can be fined. Does Westport have any such ordinance/law? It’s a small punishment, but it’s a step in the direction of discouraging this person.
    Also, does this kind of thing fall under a “hate speech” law of any kind?

    • Terry Vance

      There is no such thing as a hate speech law in the United States, which may explain the (not irrational) lack of interest by the police. One can hand out these fliers on the street. The best way to respond is to voice disapproval, which forums like 06880 allow.

  17. I’m curious if other Westporters who got the flyer ALSO subscribe to the Norwalk Hour. The ziploc bag was right next to our paper, and our neighbors who don’t subscribe didn’t get the flyer. The Hour publisher gave me the name of the PCF distribution company and phone number, and I will call them on Monday to find out how many of their Westport subscribers complained about a flyer. Don’t think it would be true, but in playing detective I’m wondering how easy it would have been to drop both off at the same time.

  18. Ms Smith – thank you for the clarification regarding the Westport Police. They are the “good guys” and watch out for all of us.
    As an aside, I remember walking to a synagogue on Yom Kippur in Haverstarw, NY with my father. I was perhaps 7-8 years old. A VW Bug sped up next to us, almost knocking us off the curb, and the teenagers spewed racist insults at us. I remember the incident as if it happened yesterday. Hate = hate and manifests itself in many ugly ways.
    Thank you for reporting the flyer to our (wonderful) police and continuing the dialogue.
    Avi Kaner
    Second Selectman

  19. Not sure why I can’t reply directly to Mr. Schwartz’s comment above, but I’d like to explain my comment (again):
    In my opinion, it is troubling that the most Affluent and Powerful country in the developed world (U.S.A) has the longest history of racial divide. Why?

  20. To Mr. Petrino’s comment above: I would be remiss not to inform you that our Provincial government is working tirelessly, as we speak, to bring back opportunity and lucrative productivity to our northern First Nations. Perhaps you’ve read about it?