The following letter was released today by Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman:
I watched the events unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia, in shock and disbelief. Hatred, bigotry and racism were once again front and center. It is difficult for me to fathom, to truly understand how some people can harbor such vile hatred. How they can be devoid of compassion, empathy and understanding.
We have seen an increase in public acts of racism and hate. It is naïve to say that we as a community did not have racism before, but it seems that through national events people feel empowered to voice words of hate more publicly.
As a community we must address this head-on and work together to make Arcata and its surrounding communities an inclusive and safe place for all citizens. I ask all community members to join me and others to publicly denounce the alt-right movement and its commitment to racism and white supremacy. The event in Charlottesville was an act of domestic terrorism and must be dealt with as such.
The Arcata Police Department is committed to working with our community to earn their trust and make Arcata safe for all. Trust is built on relationships, and I recognize that we as a department must do more to foster these relationships with all members of our community. We are working on a program to have small groups of community members meet with our officers to share perspectives and experiences. The only way we are going to understand each other is to be willing to listen. Our personal experiences shape us and how we perceive our community. The first step is opening up dialogue and building relationships.
In October, the Arcata Police Department will host a Fair and Impartial Policing training for all of our officers and supervisors. We will have an open invitation to all of our neighboring police departments and the sheriff’s office as we work collectively to be the best we can be.
“Not in Our Town” is a movement to stop hate, address bullying and build safe and inclusive communities for all. Please join me and other members of our community as we launch a “Not in Our Town” campaign. United together we can make great things happen in our community.
Chief Tom Chapman, Arcata Police Department