The Fort Worth City Council voted in the wee hours of Wednesday morning not to join a lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 4, the new state immigration law.
We are disappointed, but not surprised.
In the days leading up to the decision, it was clear the votes were not there.
Still, the vote was taken after ample public debate. The council listened patiently to scores of residents, city leaders and staff, the majority of whom supported Fort Worth joining the suit.
The council suspended the rules at the meeting’s outset, allowing a vote on the proposal the same night it was introduced, which is what the lawsuit’s supporters had wanted.
We thank the City Council for that.
What has surprised and disappointed us is the response of some members of the community to the council’s decision.
Immediately following the vote, some protesters attempted to shut down the council meeting.
They screamed hateful things at the council members; they threatened them and called them racists.
Their words were unfair, untrue and unacceptable.
Real racism was on display last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. It was not on display during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
If we’ve learned anything from our national experience, it’s that words matter — they have consequences.
While the council vote frustrated many, the decision was made in a reasonable and transparent fashion. Our city leaders deserve more respect than some meeting attendees gave them.
Most disheartening is that United Fort Worth, the group that organized the protests, garnered community support for the lawsuit, and packed out City Hall on Wednesday, has otherwise had a largely positive impact on the community dialogue about SB 4.
It’s been a remarkable effort of community organizing. It would be a shame for United Fort Worth to tarnish its valuable work with the irresponsible words of a few.
And there is still work for United Fort Worth to do. It can advance further dialogue about SB 4 and ensure it is implemented in a manner that minimizes harm to our city.
Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald has reassured Fort Worth that his department’s “mission is to protect each and every person in this city, whether you’re a citizen or not.”
We will hold him to it.
Mayor Betsy Price has said she “will work every day to bring Fort Worth together.”
We will hold her to that promise.
And if a productive dialogue is to continue, we must hold the residents of Fort Worth to high standards, as well.