By Kevin Valentine
Our community of Eatonville suffered a loss several days ago. Back on July 20, a young woman was killed in an ATV accident. It is a tragedy when youth are taken from us at such an early age, and it stirs strong emotions within us. When our loved ones are taken without notice, we do not have time to prepare ourselves for the loss. When we have a loss like this, it helps for us to come together with others who are also feeling the loss to mourn and to share. It is a way of coping and serves a purpose and should be encouraged.
But it seems that our local authorities did not necessarily see the importance of allowing and encouraging such a gathering to mourn the loss and remember their fallen friend.
A candlelight vigil at the family’s home was organized, but the gathering soon grew too large and was moved over to the skate park, a place where they had spent much time and had shared memories.
Police received a noise complaint call around 9 p.m. on this Wednesday night in which the vigil was held. They responded and decided to disband the group because they did not have a permit for the gathering.
The mayor, apparently in support of the actions of the Police Department, was later quoted saying, “It was probably one of the worst places in the town to do that,” referring to places to hold a candlelight vigil. But I think the point of holding the vigil at the skate park was that as kids, they spent a lot of good times there together and therefore does make it a good place for the gathering.
Our police and governing officials should show a little more compassion and spend more time working to serve the community in which they have been entrusted. I understand the importance of obtaining permits and such, but also believe the police could have handled the situation with much more sensitivity and could have made an effort to serve the community by protecting the rights of its ciitzens to organize and express themselves.
Would it not have made more sense to encourage the vigil to continue but ask that the noise levels be reduced? Would it not have made more sense to set some ground rules and allow the gathering to continue under those conditions?
I know the police do not have an easy job, and the decisions they have to make are often very complicated, but I think we expect more civility than that which seems to have been given in this situation.
Kevin Valentine is an Eatonville resident.