Letter from Town Resident on Removal of Peaceful Protest Flyers 

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My response to the community for my actions.

I would like to take a moment of your time to explain my thoughts and actions as referenced in the New Canaanite over the weekend. But before I do that, let’s go back over the past 30 years. 

My wife and I moved to New Canaan over 30 years ago. We found this community welcoming, warm and giving. Over the years we have volunteered for many activities. I have been involved in local politics, my church, a number of charities, elected to the town council, was a fire commissioner and currently serve as a police commissioner. I am extremely protective of this town, its emergency responders, education system, citizens and merchants. That being said, last week as I came upon some flyers on the ground and taped to some trees, I picked them up. This was a reflex as a resident, not a reaction as a police commissioner. A New Canaan Advertiser employee saw me and when asked, I said that it looked like litter and that I picked it up. 

Once I heard about the controversy I had unintentionally caused, I found out who was involved and that there was a march being organized here in town. It was put together by a New Canaan family, one that I have known for years and worship with at the same church. I called to explain my actions and to apologize for the misunderstanding. We agreed that the march was for a meaningful and important cause. We all marched together on Thursday and it was a powerful demonstration of a community coming together.

I have been called insensitive and probably a lot worse behind my back. But to my critics, I simply say—try volunteering in this town for 30 years and try not to make any mistakes. 

Paul Foley

6 thoughts on “Letter from Town Resident on Removal of Peaceful Protest Flyers 

  1. Thank you Paul Foley. Let’s not ever worry about being popular. As soon as we step up to volunteer we can become targets. Consider the sources and it can be amusing. Peggy Jay

  2. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.“

  3. Thank you for the clarification, Paul, and I owe you an apology for not reaching out to you first. I am so glad you were at the march and got to share, firsthand, in the power of the moment. From here on, I’ll be sure to double-check before I comment on something I read.

  4. Thank you Beth. We are all good. You put a lot of volunteer time into this town too. I think we just need to take deep breath every once in a while.

    • Ironically, this moment and this movement is all about who has the ability “to take a deep breath” in American society: whether it’s a knee on a neck, or COVID-19 affecting communities of color at disproportionately high rates.

      Mr. Foley, we all make mistakes, and moving forward in conversations about race is challenging. There’s still a lot about what happened here that is not clear. But to me, the bottom line is not to understand what kind of person you are. Personally, I prefer to keep the conversation focused on the impact of what happens when we make these mistakes.

      It can be really uncomfortable to do this, and I know this from personal experience. But, this is the time for those of us who are white to lean heavily into that discomfort. It’s not about who we are as good people with good intentions: it’s about the impact of our words and our actions on those affected, and doing our best to understand what that means.

      Again, speaking personally, I’ve seen the power of sitting with that discomfort. It’s made it much easier for me to have these conversations, even as I continue to make mistakes in them. Staying focused on impact, rather than intention, is one step towards making space for the greater comfort of others: moving to a country where black as well as white are able to breathe, and able to do so fully, deeply and without fear.

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