To John Weiss, INDY peace ambassador

Dear John,
I’m sorry to have let you down in your efforts to negotiate a settlement with the city on the Saint Patrick’s Day affair. I have always valued your advice and I remain hopeful that the city will consider a reconciliation over this matter.

If it’s alright I’d like to explain my position relative to your proposed terms of a settlement offer to the City Council. I am absolutely in favor of foregoing any civil lawsuits, but this must be in exchange for an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the police department.

Why would the city or police department have to cling to the formality of denying culpability if there would no longer be a threat of a lawsuit? You’ve described that having the police attend a public discussion would be admission enough, but I fear that if I am so hard to convince, probably most of Colorado Springs will not grasp the subtlety either.

You may insist that the police department will never admit it conducted itself improperly. I say it must. Excessive force and reckless endangerment must be condemned.

As I’ve explained before, I have no interest in being awarded a public meeting only to give the police chief a forum to cross his arms and reiterate both that his men did nothing wrong and that firm policies are necessary when dealing with unpredictable crowds.

You also make the point that we cannot hope to reprimand Officer Paladino, owing to the strength of police union and the brevity of our police chief’s tenure, etc. The most we could hope for according to you would be to have an unspoken agreement that Paladino would not be assigned to protest or parade duty. Even that request you fear may out of the question. I say with all due respect, nonsense.

Officer Erwin Paladino was the direct instigator of our unnecessary arrests and the escalation of violence, Probably not by coincidence in 2003 he was also found to have acted outside his jurisdiction in the Dairy Queen arrests. Would it be enough to ban him from functions requiring crowd control? No! Paladino is on the New Hire Police Advisory Board. We must ensure that his dim regard for dialog and non-violence is not perpetuated with new officers.

What happened to my friends and I at the St Patrick’s Day parade should not have happened, and I fear that the repercussions may still be felt next year. As the city prosecutor persists in trying to justify the actions of its police, I have no alternative but to stand firm.

An expeditious settlement with the city might be better for public relations, but it does not address the need to assure the rights of citizens will be respected in the future.

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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