Residents write of deep concern over divisive rhetoric, call for return to values of Pelham Strong

To the editor:

We write to express deep concern for the rising level of divisive rhetoric in our community that sadly reflects the divisions that exist on a national level. In the midst of a national pandemic and all of the disruptions that it entails, this is not where Pelham should be right now. There are varying opinions on the significance of contentious symbols, both the Black Lives Matter imagery and the thin blue line emblem. Unfortunately, Pelham Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ has been forced to mediate these differences. We agree with Champ’s ultimate decision to bar controversial symbols of all kinds (both Black Lives Matter and the thin blue line symbol) by faculty and staff, who, as adults, are in a position of authority over our children in the schools.

We can agree to disagree on what each of the symbols mean. Our children and our schools should not be where the battleground over ideologies takes place. When disagreements are so polarizing, the best solution is one in which no one “wins.” Ironically, while staff can still express support of the police with NYPD badges, local police badges or other paraphernalia, there is no equivalent alternative for supporting Black Lives Matter. The key is for staff to remain neutral with regard to the symbols that are leading to division in our society.

We respect and acknowledge the service and sacrifices of our local police officers. We are their neighbors, co-parishioners, Scout leaders and colleagues in local non-profits. We, all of us, are the people who they swore to serve and protect. Public statements from police officials, written as a delineation of services provided with expressed ignorance about how some interpret the thin blue line symbol, do not help to bring the community together. We respect the Herculean efforts that Champ and our school officials have undertaken in maintaining our children’s education in the midst of a global pandemic.

We can still be the Pelham that we were in March and April of this year. We can still be that community that banded together to deliver baked goods and sew protective masks for our first responders. Please put this issue to bed so that Champ can focus on our children’s education. We need to return back to our values of Pelham Strong.

Tiffany Hebert and Nathan Pereira

804 Colonial Ave., Pelham Manor

Toby Knapp and Deborah Lowery Knapp, Village of Pelham

Solange Hanson, Village of Pelham

Rose Diaz, Village of Pelham

Maria F. Pannullo, Pelham Manor

Teisa Salmon, Village of Pelham

Sabrina Glaser and Mark Cho, Village of Pelham

Shayna Klopott and Michael Frankel, Village of Pelham

Suzanne McNamee Synder, Village of Pelham

Joanie O’Dwyer Paradis and Mike Paradis, Pelham Manor

Lindsay Goodman Smith and Jake ‘The Myth’ Smith

Amy and John Moore, Village of Pelham

Marc and Nicole Burgess, Pelham

Katie Zutter Butterfield and Brady Butterfield, Village of Pelham

James and Kristy Rebele, Village of Pelham

Leigh Beal, Pelham Manor

Marilyn Zielinski, Pelham

Julia Fuller Nakayama, Pelham

Lauren Frasca and Michael Kleiman, Village of Pelham

Liz Massie, Village of Pelham

Theresa Brasile, Pelham Manor

Janna and Mike Zagari, Village of Pelham

Chelsea and Pascal Spengemann, Pelham Manor

Katherine L. Pringle, Pelham Manor

Moneeka Zaman, Pelham Manor

Atasha Greene, Village of Pelham

Maurice Greene, Village of Pelham

Alex and Tara Weishaupl, Pelham Manor

Marisa Panzani and Josie Carbone

Christina Day and Elizabeth Ford, Pelham Manor

Alicia Carmona and Michael Casey

Kate Ashford Carpenter, Village of Pelham

Carla Romita Eccleston, Pelham Manor

Mauro C. Romita, Pelham Manor

Laura Baber and Mark Denner, Village of Pelham

Silmara and Ron Sucena, Village of Pelham

Lisa Robb, Village of Pelham

Melissa Eustace, Pelham Manor

Erica Winter, Pelham Manor

Monica Rodruiguez, Village of Pelham

Chandra and Paul Turner, Pelham Manor

Jennifer O’Connor-Parmelee, Pelham Manor

Liliana Arabía, Village of Pelham

Bethany Ow, Village of Pelham

Emily Pauley, Pelham Manor

Eileen Proffitt, Village of Pelham

Annemarie and Jose Garcia, Village of Pelham

Aileen and Tim Dose, Village of Pelham

Kara McLoughlin and Chris D’Angelo, Pelham Manor

Romina Levy, Pelham Manor

Amy Lacoste, Village of Pelham

Jamie Parilla, Village of Pelham

Barbara L. Boroson, Pelham Manor

Melissa Labonte and Peter Romaniuk, Pelham Manor