Letter: Racism in Our Midst?


Like most people, I’ve been following the events on TV in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a policeman in Minneapolis on May 25. I’ve also been on the phone and social media attempting to comfort friends of color.

My own sense of despair at the racist state of our country isn’t fading as the political rhetoric rises and spreads: the state of Minnesota has filed a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department. Presumptive Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden has called for Congress to “act this month” to ban the use of chokeholds by police officers. But such attempts to ensure racial justice have been made before, over and over. What’s changed? Little, because the problem is local.

In this supposed small-town haven known as Laguna Beach, one of our local high school students, a black, was targeted by several of his classmates more than once by racist taunts and acts, including, two days after Christmas, the launching of a watermelon at the front door of his home. So what are we to do? Consider this: As citizens of this predominantly white town, let us inquire of the Laguna Beach Police Department what its policies are regarding racial profiling, chokeholds, and the restraint of suspects. Let us also inquire as to their recruitment and screening techniques of candidates for hire. After all, isn’t it far better to not hire racist cops in the first place than to attempt to weed them out after all hell breaks loose?

I don’t suggest that our local police are racist (I’d be surprised if they were shown to be), only that it is up to the citizens of this town to individually understand just what the department’s policies are and how they’re working. Nor am I proposing the formation of task force or study group on the issue—we historically have had an over-abundance of such committees. This is an individual responsibility we can all take up, each in our own way and style, to ensure this town reflects the best of American ideals.

Jean Ardell, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thank you Jean

    Laguna Beach had been my favorite place while living in Aliso Viejo. I felt it to be a breath of fresh air in a very racist Orange County. After living there for two years, I decided to move back east. No where is perfect, but Orange County is terrible. My husband and I are of different races, and in Aliso he had been experienced physical racial threats. We are sixty eight years old! Thank you again for your intelligent words, and I hope more of the surrounding communities learn from people like you.


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