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Open letter to Michael Henkel, Philadelphia

Dear Mr. Henkel,

I saw the news article that you were caught tearing down Black Lives Matters posters at Columbus Square Park in South Philadelphia this past Sunday afternoon. And that you were captured on video saying "not to me, they don't," in response to a woman who said to you: "black lives matter."

Being an attorney who goes to Philadelphia Family Court on a regular basis, I was very disappointed to see that, until being terminated as a result of this incident, you worked at Philadelphia Family Court as well.

I write here to urge you to use your mistake, and the public response to it, as an opportunity for growth and re-centering of yourself. Of course do all of the things everyone is saying: reject racism, show love and concern for all human beings, regardless of skin color, be a good neighbor, etc. But I imagine you know other people, perhaps in your family or within your circle of friends, who may think similarly to you too. And who may be silent reactionaries to the social movements we are seeing in our city and around the country. And I encourage you to actively bring them with you to the good side: to reject the cultural conservatism (which is sometimes, though not always, accompanied by political conservatism) of the reactionaries, and instead to take steps to begin to understand the experiences of others who may look, sound, or live differently than them, and to shift their positions to become reasonable-minded moderates who are not only tolerant, but actually accepting, of others. You can do this! And I pray that God gives you the strength, will, and patience to do so. May God bless you.

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