Published in the April 29, 2021 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
The best news out of Tuesday’s Town Election is that Wakefield isn’t totally gone.
Not yet, anyway.
I guess I’m not supposed to use the word “normal” anymore, but Tuesday’s vote on the Warrior logo was a victory for those who value tradition, history and the people’s right to tell their elected officials what they think.
The opponents of the logo didn’t want the people to be heard.
Now you know why.
You can also see why the School Committee refused to wait for the election and voted on the logo a month ago.
Can you imagine how overwhelming the “Yes” vote would have been if people thought their vote might actually make a difference? It would have been at least 2-1 and maybe even 3-1 in favor of keeping the logo.
That’s what the School Committee wanted to avoid. A mere 600-vote majority in favor? They figure they can just ignore that.
The “Save the Warrior” movement was the definition of a true, grassroots, populist movement.
The “Vote No” side raised over $7,000 in their effort to defeat the logo. But the “Save the Warrior” people beat them without raising a dime.
That’s because they had the people on their side.
The “Vote No” group didn’t just outspend the Warriors, they had the elite government establishment in their corner. They stacked the Native American panel with professional anti-logo activists. They scheduled a “public forum” on the logo for St. Patrick’s Day, when normal people are out celebrating. They created a convoluted and confusing “survey,” so they could manipulate the results. They called in members of the Boston media to do slanted stories.
And they still lost.
People don’t mind a fair a fight. But they can see when the fix is in and they don’t like it. Still, they got their chance to be heard in the one truly fair referendum, the one on April 27. The one that the School Committee didn’t want to happen.
The “Save the Warrior” people were called “racists” on social media. At public meetings, they were compared to the neo-Nazi “White Lives Matters” creeps that visited Wakefield a few weeks ago. The Warrior logo was likened to the Confederate flag.
Signs were stolen from the front lawns of pro-Warrior homes and ominous letters were placed in their mailboxes. Logo supporters and their children were tormented by anonymous bullies online. A hate website was created to harass and intimidate logo supporters.
In the face of all this, many logo supporters were reluctant to speak publicly. And who can blame them? No one wants to be harassed or called a racist. But these silent logo supporters saw what their more vocal friends and neighbors were being subjected to. It made them angry and it stiffened their resolve to vote to save the Warrior when they got their chance.
More than one local resident remarked that at first, they didn’t care one way or the other about the logo. But when they saw how obnoxious the anti-logo people were, they wanted no part of them.
The anti-logo people feigned confusion over why the Save the Warrior side was using the more traditional, side-profile Warrior image instead of the so-called “angry Indian” forward facing logo that’s been more prominent in recent years.
But they were just pretending not to understand.
They knew that they were being presented with a compromise solution. But the anti-logo people are not compromisers. It’s their way or the highway. They pretended they didn’t get it, so they wouldn’t have to admit that they were unwilling to bend or meet their opponents somewhere in the middle.
The side-profile Warrior image is the logo preferred by the Bayrds, Wakefield’s most prominent Native American family. The Bayrds made it clear on numerous occasions that they did not want the Warrior logo eliminated. They told the School Committee that they were proud of it and considered it part of their family’s heritage and legacy to the town.
They were ignored.
Now, after stealing that legacy from them, the School Committee says they want to do something to “honor” the Bayrds. How patronizing.
We’ve also been hearing a lot about how the logo issue has “divided the town” and about the need to “restore unity.”
If the new School Committee is serious about honoring the Bayrds and healing the divisions in town, they could agree to compromise and make the traditional, side-facing profile image the official logo.
The anti-logo crowd would get what they wanted – the elimination of the “angry Indian” that they find so offensive. The voters would get what they want. And, most importantly, the Bayrd family would have their legacy restored.
It’s an eminently reasonable solution, so don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.