To the editor:
In our Dec. 9, 2021, letter “Public debate, private scheming,” we noted that a Freedom of Information Act request had revealed that two groups, Grassroots Alexandria and Tenants & Workers United, were working with now former Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker and Councilors Canek Aguirre, John Chapman and now former Councilor Mo Seifeldein on a secret proposal to undermine restoring School Resource Officers. This proposal was released 10 minutes into a hearing on the issue.
GRA and TWU knew of the developing policy proposal and participated in the media strategy, while Alexandria City Public Schools, the Alexandria School Board, the Alexandria Police Department, their three council colleagues and the public – including parents – did not.
We welcome the letter writer, Jonathan Krall, not contesting this point in his Jan. 20 letter, “Pro-student, not anti-police.” Krall is a top official of GRA and identified by TWU as a volunteer and supporter, although that is not disclosed in his letter. The FOIA was clear. The only thing he contests is noting these groups are “ideologically anti-police.”
That characterization was based upon the FOIA and public statements. For example, on its Facebook page, GRA argues for “getting police out of schools” and opposes body cameras because “APD cannot be trusted … ”
GRA has also noted that TWU has called for defunding police, although TWU stated in the FOIA that it favors “reallocating” funds away from police in its scathing response to the vote. A leader of Racial Justice Alexandria, the third group Krall mentioned, is the author of the emails from the FOIA that were directed at Mayor Justin Wilson. These emails used inflammatory rhetoric about law enforcement, which we cited in our Dec. 9 letter.
These groups are, of course, entitled to their positions and to advocate for them vigorously. However, it is equally fair to read their stated positions and conclude they are indeed ideologically anti-police. The fact that the “Gang of Four” city councilors consulted with them, and no one else, in secret also speaks volumes to their concurrence with Krall’s actual position and their disinterest in any other stakeholder or view.
-Frank Putzu, Bill Rossello, Alexandria