A Way Forward - An Open Letter to Council Garfield of Superior WI

Dear Councilor Garfield,


We write this letter to you knowing you are likely in the most trying and personally challenging time of your life. Before we go any further, we want to make one thing absolutely clear: our sympathy and our concern are not mutually exclusive. We feel both for you.


As a progressive labor candidate, we’ve watched you stand up against bigotry, castigating the former Mayor Hagan for his anti-Muslim remarks, and asking that he be held accountable. You fight for workers rights, for jobs, and for everyday people to have a seat at the shiny mahogany table that government can be. You’ve fought to attain this leadership position, and fought for the values and rights of your constituents and vulnerable people in that role. We are grateful for what you’ve done. You sought this role, and fought these fights because you are a leader. We’re asking you to be a leader, now, too. We know this isn’t the shape you imagined your leadership taking. 


We’re asking you to step down. But we’re asking you to do more than that: we’re asking you to get help.


We’re writing this to you, because you did something unthinkable- you terrified and abused your female partner. You lost control of your temper, you acted on your rage in inexcusable ways, terrorizing the person you love, shaking your own sense of yourself, and forever changing the course of both of your lives. It’s done. You are here, now. It might seem like this is the end of the story, but it’s not. You can’t undo what you’ve done. But what you do from here will be the measure of you. There has to be a way forward- for you, and others.



You have the terrible but incredibly powerful opportunity to show all men and women watching this play out – and the attention on this is national – that you are a leader now, too


Domestic violence isn’t just a problem between you and your fiancé. It’s everywhere. In fact, your own situation is an example of exactly how common this issue is. Men are not innately violent, and neither are women. We are taught to behave this way, our behaviors normalized and endorsed, enabled and hidden, until finally, someone gets hurt. That someone is almost always a woman. So we are asking you to lead for everyone, to forge a new path through what is likely a field of absolute shit, visibly, vocally, and with the same transparency and accessibility you have built your leadership around.


You aren’t the only man sitting in these shackles. But you are the only one sitting in such a high place. Please use your terrible situation to do something transformative- for yourself, and for all of the people who trusted you to lead them, not just when things were easy or simple, but especially when they weren’t. 




The Feminist Action Collective