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No room for bigotry

National news media outlets spent much of the weekend covering civil disorder — riots — in cities throughout the country. But in many other communities, something more powerful was occurring.

In both Wheeling and Steubenville, demonstrations were held in protest of an attitude, one that killed Minneapolis resident George Floyd on May 25. Floyd, arrested for allegedly passing counterfeit currency, perished after four police officers mistreated him. While two of them held him down, one knelt with his knee pressing down hard on Floyd’s neck, even as it was clear the man was in severe physical distress.

Floyd was black. All four of the officers are white.

Protests over what happened to Floyd — and about ongoing complaints regarding police brutality — began within days of his death. Many of them evolved into riots.

Attention shifted to looted businesses and burning police cars — and away from the spark that caused the protests.

Not here. Peaceful demonstrations occurred in both Wheeling and Steubenville over the weekend.

Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott and Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger were present at the protest there. In Steubenville, Mayor Jerry Barilla and two city council members attended.

There was no disorder in either town. That means something very important to Ohio Valley residents.

It means we have no choice but to focus on why the protests occurred. It means we have to listen — really think about — comments such as one by Robert Hines, who participated in the Steubenville demonstration: “It’s sad that I have to explain to my children that some people won’t like them because of their color.”

We believe the vast majority of people in our area — including law enforcement officers and deputies –have no room for bigotry. But look again at what Robert Hines said. He talked of warning his children about “some people.”

As long as mothers and fathers have to worry about even a few bigots among us, we are called to action. By the power of peaceful demonstrations, some of our neighbors have forced us to recognize that.

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