CONTRIBUTORS

Just say no to C-SAU: An open letter to York County Commissioners

Matthew Jackson
Hanover
Joseph Garcia, who leads CSAU, in a promotional video he recorded last year for Tactical Life magazine in which he describes the group's tactics.

I’ve been writing and reflecting on York County’s challenges with honoring basics of human dignity, human rights and human relations since I was a reporter for The Hanover Evening Sun in the 1990s covering “the Hanover riots.” 

I’m sixth-generation York County. I’ve been in countless board rooms, executive offices and courageous conversations. I’ve seen thousands of better angels of our nature flying high and singing in harmony.  

I’ve also seen stomach-churning, soul-crushing hate, racism, prejudice, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, vileness and callousness. And then there’s the conspiring evil of casual cruelty, willful ignorance and straight-up ignoring “others.”

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More than anything, over the years, I’ve heard ear-piercing tone-deafness from on high — tone-deafness that screams louder than any horror movie and rings in your ears indefinitely. 

Far too often over the years, our culture and institutions trip, stutter and commit unforced (and hurtful) errors on basics of human dignity, human rights and human relations. Time and time again, we react to debacles of conscience and “egg on our face” (oftentimes whole omelettes-on-our-face) embarrassments like a crisis management public relations firm.  

It’s become a sad, tragic pattern when, all along, we had the ability and tools to be pro-active, problem-solving leaders and stewards of moral backbone and courage. All along, we had the ability to get out in front, troubleshoot and nip it in the bud. 

Given all this, it’s hard to fathom (but then again consistently in character) why a paramilitary private security firm with a red-flag track record and whose leader publicly used the words “Dogs’ Lives Matters” in a clear shot to the Black Lives Matters movement would even be in the running for a public contract with York County government. 

All you need to know is from the York NAACP:

C-SAU’s “Senior Team Leader”… has publicly expressed his disdain for members of the Black community. He stated that rather than support the Black Lives Matter movement, he supports, “Dogs Lives Matter.” He clearly portrays prisons as a war zone. He also predicted that there would be race riots in prisons across the country after the killing of George Floyd. 

NAACP York Branch President Jamiel Alexander said it best: “It is outrageous that the Prison Board and the County Commissioners plan to continue doing business with this organization.” 

This disturbing brand of paramilitary, macho-toxic braggadocio should not be tolerated here. 

Our beloved York County is better — so much much — better than this. And I know that in your heart of hearts, you know this, too. 

If we are serious about diversity, inclusion and opportunity, with liberty and justice for all, if we are true to your spoken ideals and strategic plans, if we are committed to building the beloved community, this contract should be rejected. 

And that is just the beginning. For example, the over-the-top paramilitary tactics that this firm uses should be banned, as western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County has done. 

Thank you for your public service and consideration.