June 13, 2020 Dena Jensen
Subject: Calling for Council Members to refrain from actions that intensify intimidation or persecution of people of color and other marginalized community members
Dear Ferndale City Council:
During this time of extreme pain and demand for action from people in our communities who are Black and of other oppressed and persecuted communities, I wanted to write you about what I see as a visible representation of violence and intimidation that stands in close proximity to your Council.
From my perspective, it has long been the case that when communities cry out about the violence and discriminatory trauma that is inflicted upon them, there are those who try to drown out their calls for change by discrediting their movements and associating danger with them. It is uncomfortable to see ourselves as oppressors or as contributors to the destruction of Black lives, but I feel it is incumbent upon us to take accountability and to take action to address our failures to live up to the embracing and helpful images we have of ourselves.
I recently saw a disturbing couple of posts shared on the Facebook page of Dakota Creek Guns & Outfitting, a business for which City Council Member Erin Gunter is listed as a co-owner on the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce website.
On June 1, 2020, there was a post on that Dakota Creek Guns & Outfitting Facebook page that was a share of a May 30, 2020 post by former candidate for Whatcom County Council, Mike Peetoom. Mr. Peetoom had posted a graphic taken from the “Firearms Unknown” Facebook page (which had posted the message on the morning of May 30, 2020) that read: “The answer to the question ‘why do you need an AR 15 and 30 round magazines?’ is on every news channel today.”
There was no context given, other than this assertion being based on what was “on every news channel” that day, leaving people to draw their own conclusions, perhaps based on dominating news themes like the protests over the police killing of George Floyd.
After making what I consider to be this irresponsible and inflammatory June 1, 2020 post, subsequently on the next post displayed, on June 3, 2020, the Dakota Creek Guns & Outfitting Facebook page posted, “Lots of new stuff today, AR Pistol, Saiga 12, Mini-14, Mossberg Sa-20, AR-15, Henry 30-30, A few pistols.”
During a time when communities are experiencing turmoil and government agencies bear a responsibility to focus on helping ensure that traditionally and currently oppressed people are not feeling intensified intimidation and persecution, I find this potential spurring of weaponizing communities for profit to be at conflict with the charge of our government to promote the general welfare, and at conflict with effectively assuaging turmoil and distress that is being experienced by people of color and other marginalized community members.
Since the actions and ethics of members of your Ferndale City Council has bearing on the overall well-being of Whatcom County, I call on you Council Members to take action to demand accountability of each other, to uphold the right of oppressed and persecuted communities to protest free from intimidation, and to meaningfully and constructively listen to and address their grievances.
Birch Bay, WA
This email was sent to the following addresses:
To: Herb Porter <HerbPorter@cityofferndale.org>; Ali Hawkinson <AliHawkinson@cityofferndale.org>; Erin Gunter <ErinGunter@cityofferndale.org>; Paul Shuey <PaulShuey@cityofferndale.org>; Ryan O’Larey <RyanOLarey@cityofferndale.org>; Kate Hansen <KateHansen@cityofferndale.org>; Ramon Llanos <RamonLlanos@cityofferndale.org>
Cc: Greg Hansen <GregHansen@cityofferndale.org>