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An open letter to Sheriff Dan Coverley (opinion)


Submitted by Arline Zeidler

It is with an open heart and mind that I write this letter in response to your initial statement to our Douglas County Library Director, Amy Dodson and her staff. Your statement that your department wouldn’t respond to a 911 call from library staff was shocking and appalling. 

My first thought was reactive. I shared with my husband my outrage by saying, “I don’t want to live in a community that doesn’t uphold and honor freedom of speech, justice for all including social justice which people of color do not receive fully in our society.”

Then I realized my shocked reaction to your statement subsided. During that moment, I again realized that all races have been conditioned to institutional racism from birth—we are all subject to this covert/subliminal blight. This blight has been here forever. We have the intelligence, the power and the ability, and hopefully the willingness, to change this DIS-EASE and therefore, these injustices.

In our Douglas County Community let’s show the way for peaceful protests for equality, equity and tolerance for all Americans.  Let’s encourage our Public Library to write in its bylaws that all are welcome, that it stands with the Black Lives Matter movement, freedom of speech, and what we write as a foundation for an esteemed institution.

Sheriff Coverley, might you consider heading up a community dialogue on some of these issues endemic to a just society and community?  Dialogue would go a long way in healing some of the division your comments may have encouraged. There have been several major occurrences in this past year that demand ongoing dialogue.

We might begin with the pandemic that we all have experienced these past five plus months. An area that can be viewed in a positive light is our mutual caring and support of one another via the wearing of masks, social distancing, washing hands and sanitizing, among other ways to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

It appears that the reactive nature of your initial statement can set up an “us and them” divisiveness…….one is either for the Black Lives Matter movement or for the Sheriff’s Department. This approach incites fear and places folks in an ‘I have to choose’ mode. 

We already have a society being driven by fear from the pandemic and its repercussions, i.e., death of loved ones, loss of millions of jobs and small businesses. These fears are all too real.

This ‘us and them’ approach does not lead to dialogue and healing in an already divided community.

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it has demonstrated we are all connected as human beings who can aid one another to prevent illness. It has connected our community not as affiliates of a particular political party, not as individuals with a particular religious belief or race—just as humans vulnerable to a deadly virus.

We owe it to our community to make national news as a positive action, showing equal respect for social justice and your hard working Sheriff’s Department.

Let’s get on NBC, CNN as a community who turned this initial debacle around, to illustrate our unity toward our constitutional freedoms and respect for Public Libraries to speak their truth which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Arline Zeidler and husband, Warren Harnden, have been residents of Minden, Nevada for the past 20 years. She has been a social justice activist most of her life and helped organize Douglas County Democratic Women some 18 years ago. Arline has been a psychotherapist in private practice for almost 40 years. She enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, gardening, yoga and is a teacher of Qigong.

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