Letter: Commissioners’ response to the sheriff’s post was ‘divisive’ | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: Commissioners’ response to the sheriff’s post was ‘divisive’

After casually perusing letters and comments pertaining to Sheriff Wiggins and the Routt County Board of Commissioners’ opinions on current events and racism in the U.S., I finally decided to see for myself exactly what all the hullabaloo was about. I read the Steamboat Pilot & Today article that started it all and then the commissioners’ subsequent response to the Pilot’s coverage of Sheriff Wiggins’ social media posting.

Reacting to one of the numerous following letters to the editor, a commenter critically accused the writer of possessing the ability to discern the commissioners’ innermost intentions and political motivations.  Mind reading is a pastime that all of us should be wary of, including the commissioners.

Their letter to the editor commenced with an expression of great disappointment stemming from the “… divisive comments made by Sheriff Garrett Wiggins…”  I carefully reread the sheriff’s posting to better understand what these “divisive comments” actually were. What had the sheriff written that was so obviously divisive that it demanded publishing an obligatory rebuttal from the commissioners?

Sheriff Wiggins referenced “nonsense” occurring in our county and opined it had nothing to do with race but rather was motivated by politics. He didn’t say peaceful protests pertaining to racial equality and justice are nonsense. I seriously doubt he holds that opinion.

So what nonsense was he referring to? He clarified that he was referring to the “violent protests” committed by “violent thugs” using, in his opinion, racial victimization as an excuse to commit said violence. He then questioned why sincerely racially sensitive individuals would find it appropriate to further victimize African Americans in particular by destroying their businesses and property in order to make their point. A fair question in my view.

And yet the commissioners found this to be “divisive.” Why? Was it because the sheriff chose not to silently condone and thereby tacitly sanction the senseless violence he was seeing unfold? Was it because he chose to openly express that opinion in these racially sensitized times? Was it because he had the audacity to stand up for a fellow law enforcement community member who had also been recently victimized?

I don’t know. But without attributing sinister motivations to Sheriff Wiggins’ comments, without mind reading the worst of intentions on his behalf, there was nothing overtly divisive in his comments. Until, that is, the commissioners chose to interpret and further publicize and describe them in that way. Now that’s divisive.

Karl Koehler

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