Joint Statement from Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman and Superintendent of Amherst Regional Public Schools Michael Morris
Like everyone else, we watched in disbelief as events unfolded at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. today. This was an assault on the very core of our democratic process and principles.
The significant violence occurred while the Congress was in the process of ratifying the results of the presidential election. The seriousness of this event cannot be understated. Significantly, it interrupted an essential component of the peaceful transfer of the power of the presidency, a process that is the bedrock of our democratic government.
We recognize that the images of violence and other illegal acts we saw are disturbing to both adults and children. Graphic videos of people inside the Capitol using racial slurs and other white supremacist language and flying the Confederate flag appeared frequently on the news and social media. We understand these images may provoke a wide range of emotions, and may be experienced as a trauma-inducing event. While many of us have not experienced something like this in the United States in our lifetimes, it may reopen past traumas for individuals who have experienced racial violence or witnessed insurrection in other countries in which they or their families have lived.
We want to assure our residents, workers, families, educators, and students that we are being vigilant at the local level to make sure that no one here imitates the violence we saw in our capital. We are committed to the safety of our residents. And our commitment to peaceful, if energetic, democratic debate will not be diminished.
For our young people, the School District will provide a space for students to communicate their concerns tomorrow morning. Regardless of one’s political opinions, it is important to note that this event is not a standard protest or an example of exercising one’s rights under the First Amendment. This was a violent event and students will likely have questions about the political process that was happening, as well as reactions to the events that have unfolded. For parents and guardians, there is no script or lesson plan for how best to discuss this situation with your children.
All schools will have mental health staff available to talk to students or colleagues who may be struggling with these events. Town and School staff have confidential access to counselors through our Employee Assistance provider.
In the meantime, our commitment to peaceful, democratic government rooted in legal precepts remains unshaken. Local government, local schools, local elections are the foundation of how we choose to govern ourselves. It requires constant vigilance to sustain it.
The following resources may be helpful to you and may guide you as you prepare to support your children: