still not healed
Sentinel & Enterprisesenlandenterprise.com
Posted: 07/22/2012 06:37:55 AM EDT
Many of us learned a new racial slur in recent days -- "Monday." Although we didn't know it was a slur, Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford, who is black, did, and he was the target of that slur July 5, while playing in a Double-A minor league baseball game in Manchester, N.H., as part of his rehabilitation from injuries.
An investigation by the Leominster Police Department has determined that one of its own, Officer John A. Perreault, was the person who directed that slur at Crawford. Perreault was off duty at the time, but no matter -- officers of the law are expected to uphold the ideals of the badge whether they are wearing it or not. Using a racial slur is conduct unbecoming an officer, and he should be punished.
Mayor Dean Mazzarella and Chief Robert Healey should be commended for their handling of this case. When they learned that Perreault was suspected of using the slur, they launched an investigation and limited the officer to desk duty. After the investigation determined Perreault did use the slur, they suspended him with pay pending a hearing Wednesday that will determine his fate.
The mayor and the chief made it clear that this is a serious infraction that is unacceptable to the standards of the Leominster Police Department. They also stressed that these were the actions of one officer, and those actions should not reflect poorly upon the entire department nor on the city of Leominster in any way. We wholeheartedly agree.
Some people think too much was made of this remark, that the incident has been overblown by the media because Crawford is a Red Sox player. Certainly it's the reason why the Boston and national media trained their cameras on Leominster for a few days.
They also will be there this Wednesday -- as well they should be. Perreault's actions are another reminder that racism is not a just a scar on this nation but an open wound -- and one that should have been healed long ago.
"This shouldn't happen anywhere," the mayor said Wednesday.
And yet it does.
We hope that when Officer Perreault is given a chance to speak at his hearing Wednesday, he offers not an excuse but a sincere apology -- to Crawford, to his fellow officers and to the people of Leominster.
If he didn't understand the power of words when he targeted Crawford on July 5, he surely does now.