Admitting when we’re wrong about a closely held belief is never easy.
It can take years to undo personal convictions based on wrongheaded thinking.
To do that work to change, and to share that story with others, is a rare act of courage.
Such is the case of Greg Howell, a former white supremacist turned Dubuque tattoo artist helping to erase hate. Howell told TH reporter Bennet Goldstein the story of his time as a Nazi skinhead, and his journey to the life he has today, trying to make the world a better place. Howell spoke of turning his life around and of turning hate into something else entirely.
Today, he pays it forward by offering to cover up hate-based tattoos for free as the owner of Dubuque Tattoo Club.
We commend Howell’s bravery, not only for making a monumental change of personal ideals, but for his willingness to expose himself to criticism by publicly owning his past.
May his message of conversion and finding a new path provide hope for others.
A salute to our friends at Sycamore Media, owner of Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, who pursued in court a violation of the Iowa Open Records Law by the Maquoketa Police Department.
The Sentinel-Press sought police camera footage from an April 6, 2019, incident involving Assistant Jackson County Attorney Amanda Lassance. Following a 911 call made by a passenger in her vehicle, claiming Lassance assaulted him, Maquoketa police responded along with Jackson County and Clinton County sheriff’s departments.
Though Lassance was found in the driver’s seat of the parked car, admitted to drinking and had “bloodshot” and “watery” eyes and slurred speech, Clinton County deputies never conducted field sobriety tests. She later pleaded guilty to an open container violation.
Both the Telegraph Herald and the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press filed open records requests with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. The agency provided camera footage, 911 recordings and other documents. However, requests for similar information and recordings from Maquoketa police were denied repeatedly, according to the Sentinel-Press suit.
This week, Iowa District Court Judge John Telleen sided with the newspaper and listed multiple reasons the footage should be released in compliance with the state’s open-records law, noting that the squad car and body camera footage would show a portion of the incident not found in the public records already provided, giving the public a fuller understanding of the incident in question.
That’s exactly what the Open Records Law is intended to do. Good for the Sentinel-Press for holding the local police accountable.
A tip of the cap to a Delaware County organization that is doing great work and opening the eyes of the community to a problem that many people probably didn’t know existed.
Keith Kramer hadn’t known, either, that there were kids who needed beds in his community. But the more he learned about the issue, the more determined he became to found a local chapter of the national organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
As Kramer learned more about the need, he heard stories of kids who had to share beds or sleep on couches or floors. Lynn Chesnut joined Kramer in the quest to start a chapter in Delaware County. Local businesses and individuals helped with donations to get the organization off the ground. Church groups made homemade quilts for the beds.
Though connecting with families has slowed because of the pandemic, the organization has beds ready to help needy children. Cheers to the good folks of Delaware County for discovering a community need and launching a group to address it.