Editor's Note: The following was written in response to a Daytona Beach News-Journal story that reported that Theresa Pontieri resigned from her position as attorney for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, after the News-Journal questioned comments she had made about Blake Lives Matter movement. The Palm Coast Observer reported on it here.
by: Theresa Pontieri
I previously had a podcast in which I discussed current events and politics—with a large focus being on my advocacy against anti-police rhetoric in this country. The News-Journal's article cherry-picked content from a couple of my videos and failed to provide the point I was trying to make, which is that I’m tired of seeing victims of crime and the police that protect us being cast aside, while people perpetrating crimes are being uplifted in order to further a political narrative. I’m further agitated that this is done at the expense of addressing the true root causes of crime in minority communities.
I’m tired of waking up to stories of children—often times black children—being killed by gang violence. I weep for people like David Dorn, James Blake’s victim, and Mikaiya Bryant’s would-be victim—all minorities—being victimized yet forgotten in the name of furthering a narrative of anti-police rhetoric. It’s wrong, it’s divisive, and it’s not forcing people to be held accountable for their actions. The focus is rarely on the victims, because it’s not trendy to “say their names,” as virtue-signaling is best-served by repeating the names of people engaged in unlawful acts or making poor decisions.
While my message could have been more tactful and considerate, my intent was not hateful, and my overall sentiment remains the same. I want better for our society, and I fear the media is pushing us further from what should be a mutual goal of safer communities. It’s a shame that rather than help minority communities improve their neighborhoods by addressing what seems to be endless black-on-black crime, our “leaders” and the media have chosen to further allow minorities to victimize one another so that they have something to politicize and sensationalize.
When I was sworn in as general counsel for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, I swore to uphold the Constitution and to not allow personal opinions or emotions to affect my decision-making. Public officials, judges, and even our sheriff are expected to uphold this credo, and I was committed to doing the same. As an attorney, I’m sworn to uphold the law and make decisions based in the law, and I am confident in my ability to carry out my duties with those paramount principles in mind.
Not once while working for the Sheriff’s Office were my official actions or decision-making called into question. Put simply, I was forced to resign not because of my official actions or words, but because of opinions that were constitutionally expressed months before being hired.
Before I worked for the Sheriff’s Office, I owned my own law firm, which I spent the last four years building. I focused on assisting low- to middle-income individuals, so that those who couldn’t afford large retainer fees could still find good legal assistance. I wanted to fill a void, and I didn’t care that it would never make me rich. I became an attorney so that I could help people. I closed my practice and gave up hundreds of clients in order to work for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. I am disheartened that for my sacrifice, and for standing up for the police across our country, I was forced to resign by the very people I was advocating for. I am disappointed that rather than being given an opportunity to explain the true tenor behind my words, I was canceled.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with my position, my delivery, or my words, but I do expect the ability to the exercise of my Constitutional rights. I violated not a single policy; I broke not a single law; I cast doubt on not a single decision made while at the Sheriff’s Office.
Yet, here I am—no job, no firm, no voice.
My forced resignation is nothing less than an act of complicity with the very atrocity I was trying to advocate against. Contesting false rhetoric that has done nothing but tear our country apart is not something that someone in America should be punished for. But, hey, I guess this is all part of the “new normal.”