Shanti Emerson: Black and blue lives matter |

Shanti Emerson: Black and blue lives matter

Last week I received a Facebook notification from Nisenan spokesperson Shelly Covert, which deserves our attention. She, like many of us, is concerned with the vast political division in our county and country. There are conflicted feelings among family members, neighbors, and friends. Shelly is a uniter. We need more like her. Below is her post:

“Friends. I just passed the little demonstrating happening in GV on South Auburn street. It pinged my heart to see the ‘we love our police’ folks standing on an opposite corner from those standing with ‘BLM’ folks. This is one community, and if our police are doing it right, these movements should not be separate! Stand together! If our police do not engage in racial profiling and discrimination, why do the two movements stand apart?

“If we are doing it right … there should be no fear of the BLM movement! There is nothing to fear! If we have areas within our police department that need to be reshaped, let’s stand with them to do it.

“As non-black members of this town, this place, we can support this movement. We can learn what we may not know. We can become educated without separation and fear. I want to see WE LOVE AND SUPPORT OUR POLICE and IF we are doing it right here in Grass Valley, Nevada City and greater Nevada County, I want to know why! I want to know the details so I can shout it out with you.

“Give me the reasons we are doing it right! And if there’s space to do it better, what are those spots we can improve? Why is there division and fear of what we are doing it right? Is there anyone who can talk about this without animosity and fear? I want to know how we do it right. It affects us all.”

I went to her Facebook page and to my amazement, she had over 100 replies. They ran the gamut from “BLM is a terrorist organization” to “Defund the police.” Both of these are extreme and serve no value. Thank goodness there were a number of thoughtful comments also. Here are some:

“As a woman of color living here, I have experienced nothing but complete respect from police in our community. I respect law enforcement, and I know that they are here to protect us and keep our community safe. It is possible for police to learn better ways to handle situations without lethal force? I have the utmost respect for officers who put their lives in danger to protect us all. My prayer is that by sharing methods of nonviolence and a member of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) that we can become these change agents. I appreciate you for your wisdom as an elder and look forward to learning more about how we can apply our practices of honoring the ways of the elders and ancestors. Aho!”

“Whether we like it or not, racism is alive and well in our county. I was out on the corner a couple weeks ago and a guy with an American flag on his truck screamed out at us f— n-word.”

“The police have racist slave hunting roots and nothing has changed. I just feel they should have more training time put in when they go to school to become police. So in California police are required to take 664 hours of training. If you want to be a licensed cosmetologist, you’ll need 1,600 hours of schooling in California.”

“It sure would be refreshing to see everyone stand for the disproportionate number of black men and women, and even children, being killed by police officers. It’s not only their rights being stepped on, its their necks. I completely understand the rage and stand with the movement. Calling those who do protest against this behavior terrorists or hate groups ignores the reality. Nobody in BLM says other lives do not matter, but yelling “all lives matter” is the same as saying black lives don’t. It is racist in that way. I’m with you Shelly, I’d like people to come together in support of black lives and good policing.”

“I don’t see a conversation about rethinking our communities’ relationship with law enforcement as inherently anti-white. Cops kill white people too and we need to talk about the things we can do to prevent that from happening (really the only class of people that aren’t victimized by the cops are the super rich). The current system is untenable, and that’s why people are in the streets.”

“The best way to get out of this is to open up good-faith dialogue with people you might not agree with and stop calling the other side terrorists and Anti-American.”

“When people say ‘Defund the Police,’ they really mean ‘refunding’ social programs that keeps people from getting desperate and turning to crime. This would help the cops, lighten their work load, and have them focus on their favorite thing, which should be keeping the peace.”

And it goes on and on. It seems to me that this is one issue that we can agree on … police officers and sheriff’s deputies are very important to our communities. It would be scary without them. I don’t think a logical person would want to defund law enforcement; however, too many unarmed citizens (especially blacks) have been killed. We need to retrain cops from using lethal techniques and weapons when it is not called for such as the tragic death of George Floyd.

All lives matter whatever the skin color. Perhaps we should have a much better selection process for law enforcers including psychological tests and then a much better training system. We want to have a good police force, one that we can respect and which will keep all our citizens safe.

Besides the numbers regarding the killing of unarmed African Americans, there are other disturbing statistics regarding blacks and murder. For instance, blacks murdering other blacks happens much more than cops killing blacks. And more whites are killed by blacks than vice versa, even though 63% of the population is white and only 13% black. Even though you may not like these statistics, it is necessary to look at them to see the total picture and try to ascertain why there are so many murders from and within the black community.

Although I’ve never gotten more than a speeding ticket, I had to call the sheriff’s office for protection five or six times when I lived next door to some vicious neighbors in South County. The officers were extremely polite and competent and were able to de-escalate the situations with tact and firmness. I find Sheriff Shannan Moon to have those same qualities in the highest degree.

I’ve never had any interaction with the Grass Valley, Nevada City or Truckee police departments, and I have heard very good things about their handling of intense situations.

It seems that this issue would be an easy one for everyone to agree on. Don’t you think that most people want the protection of mentally stable officers who don’t shoot unarmed people? Can we all agree on that?

Shanti Emerson is a Nevada County resident and a member of The Union Editorial Board. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the board or its members. She can be reached at

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