Opinion: Editor Ken Vance — ‘The violence came to our community and it breaks my heart’

Vancouver Police veteran Rey Reynolds also issues plea to the community in the aftermath of the death of Kevin Peterson Jr.

Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his latest thoughts on the impacts of the stay-at-home orders in place to address the coronavirus pandemic.

On most of the past 150-plus days that the city of Portland has been mired in violence by protesters against law enforcement, I have woken up most mornings to an email from the Portland Police Bureau detailing the riot activity, violence and arrests that took place in that city during the night.

Almost every single time I perused each of those emails, I gave thanks that the violence was being committed and riots were taking place in Portland and not in Clark County. I shared with friends and family many, many times that I just pray that violence doesn’t come across that wide river that divides us. Last night, my worst fears were realized. The violence came to our community and it breaks my heart.

About 3,000 protesters and counterprotesters gathered in Hazel Dell Friday night in the aftermath of the death of 21-year-old Camas resident Kevin Peterson Jr. Photo by Jacob Granneman
About 3,000 protesters and counterprotesters gathered in Hazel Dell Friday night in the aftermath of the death of 21-year-old Camas resident Kevin Peterson Jr. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Before you craft your comment about my insensitivity to violence in other cities and communities, know that I wish all of the violence would stop, no matter where it is taking place. Stand on the street corner, in the public park or wherever you choose and hold your sign, chant your chant, or yell into your megaphone. Just, stop committing crimes in the name of whatever cause it is that you’re promoting.

Thankfully the violence in Vancouver last night was limited to somewhat minor property damage in the downtown area. Only six protesters were arrested, of which only two had Clark County addresses. Why do I mention that? Because the protesters were largely from outside our community and they didn’t come to Clark County to mourn the loss of Kevin Peterson Jr., the 21-year-old Camas resident and Union High School graduate who was shot and killed by law enforcement Thursday evening. They came to further their own agenda.

Protesters damaged multiple properties in downtown Vancouver overnight including the Robert L. Harris Juvenile Center. Photo by Paul Valencia
Protesters damaged multiple properties in downtown Vancouver overnight including the Robert L. Harris Juvenile Center. Photo by Paul Valencia

A vigil was scheduled in Hazel Dell at 5 p.m. Friday at the US Bank location where Peterson tragically lost his life. My heart breaks 100 different ways for the family and friends of the young man who is no longer with us. But, it is a shame that Peterson’s family and friends weren’t allowed to participate in the vigil for Kevin without others sabotaging the event for their own agendas. Proof of that can be illustrated by the fact that those individuals stayed well after the vigil was over and then took their protest to downtown Vancouver where the violence took place.

It is my hope and prayer that last night isn’t repeated as it has been in Portland and other cities around the region and country. Let’s allow the investigation to take place and the details to continue to be revealed before we jump to conclusions about what did or did not take place.

Rey Reynolds statement

Rey Reynolds, a 21-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department issued a statement about what our community is experiencing right now. Please listen to the words from this valued and respected member of our community. He has earned the right for his voice to be heard.

Rey Reynolds
Rey Reynolds

“The tragedy of Thursday has impacted our peaceful Vancouver community in multiple ways.  We cherish life,  uphold justice, and love our families. We grieve when anyone in our Vancouver family suffers the loss of a family member. We lost a family member that day and I am personally saddened with what the Peterson family will have to endure. I will believe for the peace which surpasses all understanding to cover the Peterson family and all involved in this tragedy.    

“I call upon all Vancouver citizens to be respectful and dignified, as is our nature, in observing this loss of life and the horrible impact it is having on those involved.  I ask all Vancouver residents to trust that all information will be forthcoming from neutral authorities and that truth will prevail.   

“Lastly, I call upon all members of our community to seek peace and unity. To community leaders, I call upon you to take up the mantle of peace. We do not ask people from outside of our community to bring violence to us.

“May we come together as Vancouver citizens, as truth seekers, as lovers of peace and may God bless Vancouver.’’

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