After reading the local news about the protest at the home of a Wells Fargo employee, I cannot help but lament.

Westfield has always been a peaceful town where we respect our neighbors, no matter their political beliefs, yet our town is falling victim as of late to the division and vitriol of national politics. While we always run energetic campaigns or have heated debates on hot-button issues, we have always discussed our differences civilly and have been well-informed. Though, in all my life in Westfield, never have I witnessed tactics so aggressive as today, when a private citizen was targeted for decisions made at her place of employment over which she had no control. Although I fully uphold that the protestors have a full right to freedom of speech, they had no justification to intimidate one of our neighbors in order to carry out their message.

One solution to this antagonistic type of politics is to let it fall on deaf ears. However, these aggressive tactics have been rewarded as of late, and I cannot help but place blame those who took majority of our town’s government in November for the change. Although the newly elected administration did not come out in support of this mob, during the election cycle, they have followed the siren calls of the angriest voices in town, actively taking part in boisterous protests on national issues to solicit votes. As elected officials, they capitalized on the national anger by flirting with the idea of making Westfield a sanctuary town and as a result, have brought that same national anger to daily life in our town. Moreover, as candidates, they sought significant funding and grassroots support from those outside of Westfield, so it should come to no surprise when illegal immigrant activists from outside our town storm our streets with the sole purpose of intimidating one of our neighbors. The type of politics supported by our leaders ends up being the type of politics that permeate our town.

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We should commend our town police that the protestors were able to express their voices while no one in the neighborhood was hurt. Nevertheless, our political engagement should not be one where the police needs to defuse the threat of targeting and intimidation.

Consequently, I ask that we all participate in a better form of politics. Should we engage in national politics, I ask that we do so respectfully and ultimately make choices that lead to betterment of our neighborhood and the people living within it. There are hundreds of ways a citizen could involve him or herself to mobilize change, the lowest of which is targeting an innocent woman while frightening her family and neighbors. When people from outside our town go low, we must show them that the residents of Westfield always go high.