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Peace sign proposal pulled

April 17, 2012

The Colville City Council chambers turned into an ideological battleground last Tuesday as community mem¬bers volleyed back and forth during a public comment pe¬riod.
The issue at hand was whether or not a trio of local residents should be allowed to turn the “C” into a peace sign on Colville Mountain for Earth Day. The author of the pro¬posal, Peter Quinn, withdrew his proposal, saying he “didn’t mean to offend anyone,” and that his desire to construct the temporary peace sign was not politically motivated.
The proposal, written and presented to council on March 27 by Quinn, requested that the city allow the men to use three rolls of Tyvek building paper to create the peace sign on April 21 and leave it up all day on Earth Day, April 22. Quinn said he would return on Monday, April 23 to clear the Tyvek away. He said he would also make repairs to the “C” by installing more white rock and hand raking around the area.
Opponents of the proposal maintained throughout the public comment portion of the meeting that the peace sign’s history is a controversial one that symbolized communism, Marxism, and even the anti-Christ.

County chimes in

Colville City Attorney Char¬lie Schuerman advised mayor Deborah Rarrick and council to reject the proposal on the grounds that the city could open itself up to potential liti¬gation from civil rights groups concerning the erection of a political symbol on city prop¬erty. He also noted that the city does not have a policy in place to address potential in¬juries sustained by individu¬als volunteering for the city.
The Stevens County Com¬missioners, in a rare instance, also chimed in via Commis¬sioner Malcolm Friedman, who presented a letter to council.
“We rarely have reason to be involved in city matters, but our office received numerous calls and emails regarding this issue, and we felt it was necessary to address it,” said Friedman. “We would ask that the mayor and the council refuse this request in the in¬terest of not making political statements on public property a precedent in our commu¬nity.”
John Smith said he was op¬posed to using city funds to assist with the placement of any political or religious sym¬bol on city property. He cited when vandals burned down the cross that stood on Colville Mountain several dec¬ades ago. The American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit if the cross, a religious icon, was resurrected on city ground. A local landowner opted to have the cross rebuilt on private property, with do¬nations from individuals and local charitable organizations.
Though no city funds were requested for the “peace sign project” in Quinn’s proposal, Quinn later said after the meeting that he “had no de¬sire to spend my own money or energy on something that people are going to take the wrong way.
“I really didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feel¬ings or tell them that their be¬liefs don’t matter. I honestly had no idea this would make people so upset and angry.”
Council member Nancy Foll attempted to compromise and suggested that the word “peace” be put in place of a peace sign, since “the word has different connotations for everyone.”
Since Quinn withdrew his proposal, the issue was dropped and council took no official action.

Comments

Peace sign

April 26, 2012 by swaneagle (not verified), 2 years 26 weeks ago
Comment: 3121

After 2 of my children endured hateful racism in Stevens County, i finally moved for good. Sadly, once again, anyone or anything that does not conform to rigid, intolerant concepts prevails. For over 30 years, i have been working for peace and did my best while living in Stevens County only to be vilified, slandered and maligned. But the topper was the hateful mistreatment of my young daughter and someone spray painting the "n" word and queerbag on her school in Orient. After that, the harassment she suffered was unbearable.

I came to Stevens County to live in 1975 with my baby son. At that time, Hippie hatred was legendary, yet we were the force behind the wonderful North Country Food Coop that provided wonderful organic food for nearly 30 years. Many other contributions were made and continue to be made by people who lived simple lives and proved to be valuable community members. Yet, the same intolerance that drove my family away one last time continues. I am very sorry the symbol of peace has been so twisted people actually feel they are justified in making a monster out a longtime well known dream of life without war.

I will continue to strive for peace in my life for the sake of my children and all the coming generations. I commend Peter Quinn in his courage to even dare make the request to erect a peace sign for Earth Day in an area long know for it's rabid intolerance for peaceful creativity. As anyone who is paying attention knows, we are rapidly losing a livable planet and society, for that matter. This isn't politics, it is undeniable fact. May the beautiful region that once was my home be opened to the gifts so many have to offer. Otherwise, i fear the narrow mindedness will accelerate the terminal fate we all face in these times.

My last wish is that people really consider the depth of violent racism that simmers unimpeded in Stevens County. Has similar outrage been displayed by county and city officials about the several violent racists who went elsewhere in the country to kill people of color or the attempt to kill marchers in the Spokane Martin Luther King walk in January of 2011?

In peaceful struggle,

swaneagle

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