To the Editor:

I was stunned to read the quotation in last week’s Darien Times, from First Selectman Stevenson, explaining why she walked in Darien’s Cross Walk march last Sunday. I also felt disappointed and confused why she, our town’s leader and primary spokesperson, chose to leave out the main reason why hundreds of Darien residents chose to participate.

Each of the prayers, speeches and informal discussions I heard at the march —and indeed, even the First Congregational Church’s invitation to the march —focused intently on the brutal, lawless violence that ended the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. To my eye, march participants were struggling, together, to reckon with the stark, stubborn, and plainly unjust reality that an American is far more likely to be choked to death in connection with a false allegation of resisting arrest, to be shot in the back while jogging, and to be shot while at home in a case of mistaken identity, if his or her skin is black.

There was a powerful harmony, to my ear anyway, amongst the crowd, filled with so many kind people, each in their own way trying to express how disturbed and heartbroken they felt by the graphic video we all have seen. And how hopefully, perhaps even desparately, they wanted to take some small step in support of equal justice under the law…..with the march serving as a blessed relief, to serve that purpose, even if only for a day.

The march evoked many feelings within me, including a strong sense of gratitude of this wonderful town we live in, and the caring, thoughtful people who make it so special (including our police officers, who kept us safe and without whom the march of course could not have happened). In and among those people, I for one felt a collective epiphany, a realization that Black Lives Matter should be an American cause rather than merely an African American cause. Perhaps Ms. Stevenson felt or observed something similar and, in the cross-current of the other complex emotions and factors she noted, just unintentionally neglected to mention it.

Editor’s note: To clarify, Ms. Stevenson’s comment on why she was walking was made before attending the walk, not after. In response to the above letter, Stevenson said the Cross Walk was organized as a healing and mourning event for George Floyd and COVID-19 deaths, and she reflected on that as she made her comments.

Lawrence Lehan