Roses and thorns: 6/7/20




A rose to organizers and participants in Saturday's March for Justice in Starkville, which had a tremendous turnout. This was the latest in a series of protests throughout the area and the country over police brutality against blacks and racial injustice in all of its manifestations. Saturday's march was peaceful, hopeful and unifying. A large, diverse crowd of approximately 2,000 participated in the Saturday morning march beginning at Unity Park and ending at the Amphitheater on the campus of Mississippi State University. In Columbus, a community worship service is planned for Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Lowndes County Courthouse. A 4 p.m. march from the Columbus Municipal Complex to the Lowndes County Courthouse is also planned.



A thorn to city officials in Starkville, particularly police chief Mark Ballard, for its cool reception to a call for a citizens review board from local activists to hold the police department accountable. This proposal, which came from the racial justice advocacy group #StarkvilleStandUp, comes in the wake of police brutality incidents that have sparked protests throughout the nation. Ballard said such groups are necessary only in communities served by "dysfunctional police departments," while other city officials, while not dismissing the idea outright, showed little enthusiasm for the idea. This reaction seems somewhat tone-deaf during a time that people across the country are pushing for more healthy law enforcement-civilian relationships. We think it's a proposal worth consideration, not because we believe the SPD is dysfunctional but because of the way we've seen such a committee work effectively to serve a community in a variety of ways. Columbus has had a citizen review board for its police department for six years.




A rose to our readers who continue to share their views through letters to the editor and columns. In recent months, we've been delighted to see more and more readers submit their opinions through this format. Recently, a letter writer, commenting on a column written by a college student who called for defunding the police department, wrote a brief letter to the editor, which said, "Is Columbus, Mississippi really at a point where our newspaper believes defunding the police is a legitimate point of view?" As a community, we will not always agree on issues, but fair-minded people are never harmed by being exposed to views contrary to their own. Lately, our left-leaning readers have been offended by printed opinions from the right, and our right-leaning readers have been offended by opinions from the left. We intend to continue presenting a diverse set of (respectful) views. Now, more than ever, we believe that's important.




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