Editor’s Note: Sherry Graham-Potter wrote this public letter to the mayor her hometown in Arizona expressing her rage at the mayor’s failure to support his own police officers. It is being published here because it mirrors the way many of us feel about the behavior of the public officials in our lives.
When I married Pima County Deputy Tim Graham, exactly one week from today fifteen years ago, I was a young woman who had little experience with the law enforcement family. When he was killed in the line of duty thirty-one days after our wedding, I became an expert in a matter of days.
There were two men standing at my door that night. They had come to tell me that my husband was not ever coming home again.
Do you know what I did not care about that night? The color of their skin. I did not notice that the chaplain who gently held my hand as I desperately tried to grasp the reality of what I had just been told was a person of color.
When I was told about the taxi cab driver who so bravely attempted to intervene when he noticed Tim in a desperate struggle for his life, I didn’t care that he was of a different faith, all that mattered was that he sacrificed his life to try to help Tim, and that I was as devastated for his family as I was for mine.
As the days unfolded, I did not notice the race of the men and women, from agencies all across the state, who grieved by my side for my fallen husband. I did not notice the race of the widow of another fallen officer who prayed over me one night when I was not sure I could bear to take another breath.
When I look at photos from his service, I am not concerned in the slightest about the different shades of skin, nor the gender of the officers who carried his casket into the church, or the squad mates that spoke at his services.
There were thousands of law enforcement officers in attendance at Tim’s memorial service, and when I turned in my seat to look at the sea of people there to honor the sacrifice that my husband made doing a job he loved, I did not see gender, or religion, or color or orientation. I saw only a group of individuals who understand the true meaning of the thin blue line.
READ MORE: DEAR NIKE
You see, these officers weren’t dispatched to my husband’s funeral. They showed up because he mattered. They weren’t dispatched to stand guard in front of my home to shield my family from the media. They showed up because we were their FAMILY. They weren’t dispatched to check up on me and my children in the months following Tim’s death. They did it because that is who the men and women of the blue line ARE.
We, as civilians, often fail to understand just how thin that blue line actually is. We fail to understand that if we continue to degrade them, villainize them, punish them unjustly, abuse them, put their families lives in danger, marginalize and attack them, that someday (and I wholly believe that day is drawing near) they will walk away from that fragile line. And trust me when I tell you, when they walk away, the wolves won’t be far behind.
July and August are difficult months for me in a good year, but with the events of this year, leading up to the absolutely disgusting statement you released today, I have had enough. How DARE you suggest that the people backing a thin blue line painted in front of the main station is based on white supremacist ideology.
Your statement is ABSURD, given the fact that white supremacist groups are almost across the board anarchists and despise organized law enforcement. Your accusation of such is so baseless, so vile and such a kick in the teeth to the officers of this community (this includes my TPD officer husband) and their families, that I can scarcely contain my rage.
You proclaim that the thin blue line is divisive. I, and the law enforcement community could not more vehemently disagree. The thin blue line represents people from every walk of life imaginable, without regard to race, gender, orientation, religion or otherwise.
You have so clearly aligned yourself with the people who wish to do my blue family harm, that you no longer even bother to hide it. In your short time “serving” this community you have done nothing but divide it. Your disdain for law enforcement, your pandering to the truly divisive, is destroying what was once a vibrant and cohesive city.
Today, you have pulled off your mask altogether and outed yourself as an enemy to the very people who have been protecting you and your family all these years. I hope you are prepared to deal with the consequences that will no doubt be forthcoming, when not only the good citizens of this community begin to flee in droves, but the police officers will, as well.
I was born and raised in this community. I have raised my children here. I have worked here. I watched the people of this community come out in droves to honor my husband Tim after his line of duty death. But over the last decade, I have watched as the city that I love, the city I thought I would never leave, become unrecognizable to me. And now, I can scarcely wait for my husband to retire so we can find a community where WE feel safe.
My fellow law enforcement families, in the last several weeks, have spent their time scraping decals from their cars that proclaim their support for the police. They have removed flags from their yards, and stopped wearing any clothing that identifies them as pro law enforcement.
And you have done NOTHING to address or even acknowledge that this climate is having a hugely negative effect on the very people that protect the citizens who you purport to serve.
I believe that you are woefully unfit to continue to serve as mayor and I implore you to resign immediately. You are clearly not concerned about what is in the best interest of this city, only in furthering your own agenda.
Surviving Spouse of Pima County Deputy Timothy Graham, EOW 8/10/2005
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
Sherry values hearing from his readers – EMAIL
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