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Smith: Now's the time to talk about response to Andy Lopez decision

Is anybody talking?

Is anyone exploring what may happen, or should happen, or we hope won't happen if District Attorney Jill Ravitch announces a decision on whether to file charges against the Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who killed Andy Lopez, and that decision inflames those demanding that the deputy be held criminally liable?

I imagine that Sonoma County law enforcement authorities are talking and making contingency plans, and that the activists pressing Ravitch to try Deputy Erick Gelhaus are, too.

What about the rest of us?

What about schools? And churches? And community organizations that work with youth? What about the families of young people likely to take to the streets if protests occur?

It may be that Ravitch's decision on whether to charge Gelhaus will not trigger an angry and possibly violent or destructive response. But, clearly, it could.

Rather than simply hold our breath, we might better talk about what can be done to attempt to assure things don't turn ugly.

Maybe parents and other adults with influence on teens are engaging them in discussion of the right ways to channel rage over perceived injustice. This seems like a most appropriate time for it.

Down the road, we may find ourselves coming together to talk about whether violence committed in response to violence makes any sense, only makes things worse and dissolves any meaningful distinction between the perpetrators.

How much better that we attempt to have that conversation now, during the wait.


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