email to team families regarding my arrest for “disturbing the peace” 🙂

text below

REGISTRATION…. TEAM PARTY… DISTURBANCES OF PEACE 🙂

Kendal Vaughan Jul 6, 2020, 8:20 PM

Greetings, Soccer Family!!


I’m reaching out about the fall registration deadline, an end of season gathering…and my arrest the other week featured in the Wilmington Apple 🙂
1. To play the 2020-2021 travel soccer season, YOU MUST REGISTER BY TODAY JULY 6!

2. Tom will follow up in a few days with a survey to gauge interest and availability for a gathering toward the end of July 🙂

3. I was arrested in Wilmington for disturbing the peace on the eve of Juneteenth (for protest in support of Black Lives Matter)


I’m sure everyone is psyched to delve right into the next 3 zillion words here, but before political differences pull us apart, I thought it’d be worth collectively appreciating that a story about someone else getting arrested is almost *always*  preferable to descriptions of vague field markings, reminders of arrival times, and/or inclement weather protocols. So at least there’s that…..

PERTAINING TO THE TEAM PARTY
I had been truly optimistic about an end-of-year team pool party; however, I’ve become poignantly aware over the past couple weeks that my positions and actions regarding things like social and racial justice are outside some folks’ comfort zone. Tommy had a playdate canceled over it, so I wouldn’t want to convene a Team Family Pool Party only to have some families later feel “blind-sided” by my opinions or activism.

I’d certainly love to facilitate a gathering for players and families if covid-data trends encouragingly, but like I said, Tom will send out a survey in a few days to determine if that’s a real consideration for families or not 🙂

THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO MY ARREST   <– I gotta admit that’s not the most comforting phrase to read in an email from your kid’s youth sports coach, but I am grateful for the opportunity to provide an explanation to families directly….

  • I went to pick up Kierra’s West Yearbook at the address that the school provided to families. Specifically, the school directed all 5th grade families to retrieve yearbooks from this resident’s front steps–next to which the residents posted their yard sign.
    • (The date of the pickup, obviously, was in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder (and also on the eve of Juneteenth))
  • When I arrived at the house, I walked up the walkway, past the sign containing a thinly veiled racist sentiment (“MORE BELOW”), up the front steps to retrieve the bag with my daughter’s name on it… then back past the sign etc to my car.
  • I emailed the school, waited for a reply, and none came (I still haven’t received one).
  • I expressed my objection to that signage to the residents later that same day.
    • I played music and speeches from an anti-racist playlist from the street on a small Bluetooth speaker around 9:45/10pm.
  • Neither adult resident of the home ever spoke to me directly or asked me to turn the volume down — they just called the police
    • (An adult male did calmly take out the trash while I was in the street, but never acknowledged or spoke to me.)
  • Immediately upon the request of officers, I attenuated the volume of my music. I asked them if the music was at an acceptable level, and they assured me it was. 
  • After 40 minutes of talking with multiple officers, one officer (presumably having endured 40 more minutes of “liberal propaganda” than he bargained for ;)) threatened to arrest me [for disturbing the peace] if I didn’t leave immediately; when I asked what about the law or ordinance I was violating, one officer said, “it’s really vague…” and the other said “you’re under arrest.” 

“MORE BELOW”
In the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmad Aubrey, Sean Reed (…and Sandra Bland, David McAtee, Tony McDade… Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Philandro Castile, Jemel Roberson… and Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice…)  — and while the country (and purportedly the community) is discussing the cultural and institutional changes needed to end police brutality against black people…  Putting up a sign that says “this family supports the police”  unequivocally and inextricably conveys “we support the institution that killed all of these Black people–and hundreds more–with impunity.”  

BUT THEN THIS ENSUED….
I object/ objected to the school’s role to allow a community member to impose racist social or political positions on students and families within the scope of school-designated activities.

I object/ objected to an individual’s (or residents’) perceived entitlement to force the those positions on students and families–especially within a your-presence-required but your-dissenting-opinion-not-allowed realm.

I did not embark on an anti-police protest (and to be fair, if that were my point, I would have been in front of the police station…)

At the time of this incident, I had felt like the sign and the conditions under which it was displayed said “I’m going to force you to listen to my opinion, I’m under no obligation to listen to yours–and just remember: the police will be on my side if we disagree.”

THEN the individual called the police without ever speaking to me or asking me to play my music elsewhere or anything else.

THEN the police made an arrest without explaining what or how I violated any law or ordinance.

THEN the individual sent a sign-your-own print-from-home form letter to my house threatening arrest if I were “in or around the premises” of the house that I was on the street in front of

….but if you figured “the police would never enforce a sign-your-own print-from-home threat of arrest like they would a restraining order!”

…then you might find it a bit concerning that the form letter was made available on the Wilmington Police website…

MY WHOLE POINT
I do feel like the response of the resident and police illustrate a problematic power structure, but obviously at the time, my whole point in emailing the school and protesting the sign (and getting arrested, I suppose?) had been to point out a sentiment that was expressed in response and opposition to Black Lives Matter. 

My enthusiasm for–and indeed my dependence on–pickup soccer is no secret… Missing those games and my friends through the quarantine was awful: I became isolated and depressed, and it sucked. The race of the guys I play with wouldn’t even be relevant–they’re just my mates…. But since these are the guys who keep my soul afloat from week to week, it feels irresponsible for me not to say something in some capacity:


My friends and the men I play with are black, most of them first generation African students, workers, and citizens. Among the guys I’d play with every week, there were guys with Masters degrees, a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, marketers, engineers, coaches, players, and healthcare workers…. and I’m telling you from years of knowing these guys, that the men I’ve met have been the most inclusive, welcoming, supportive, kind, and respectful “clique” of people I’ve ever associated myself with…. But all of those beautiful and important things that make up my friends never get seen through officers’ (or individuals’) eyes when they equate black skin with “potential danger” or “a reason to be on alert.”  

I hate when someone prefaces a gender equality argument with “as the father of a daughter…” (like girls wouldn’t deserve equal treatment if you personally had only spawned boys?)… Similarly, I don’t want to frame my position like “as a person to whom black people personally matter…”  But for better or worse, black men and boys do matter a lot to me personally… and I won’t always have the right approach, but I will never be sorry for committing to the safest possible world for my friends and those who look like them.

And that’s the story of my arrest.

Yours,

Kendal Vaughan

DISTURBER OF PEACE