Rick Hindman | Differing Memories and Perspectives

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I would like to thank Karen Frost for her letter to the editor published in The Signal on Nov. 8. Karen Frost is the chair of the newly formed L.A. County chapter of Moms for Liberty — leaders are all from the Santa Clarita Valley. Moms for Liberty — famous for banning books from school libraries, and losing recent elections — promotes culture wars, including the recent discriminatory and illegal parental notification/forced outing policy being pushed at school board meetings. 

I would like to thank you, Karen — and The Signal — for the chance to respond to your letter where you share your positive perspective on the “Tragic Day” at Saugus High School. For those not from Saugus or SCV (or perhaps new to the area), at 7:38 in the morning of Nov. 14, 2019, a student pulled a .45-caliber handgun on the Saugus High School quad, shot five students, murdering two of them, and then took his own life. The lives of the murdered students, Dominic Blackwell and Gracie Muehlberger, are memorialized by the two obelisks in Central Park. 

Every Saugus student has their own story of that day. Karen, your child fled, then received a safe ride home from another parent, for which I am grateful. My daughter was only 5 feet to the right of the shooter and witnessed close-up the unspeakable violence of the murders and suicide. My daughter sprinted from campus — making a panicked call to her mother. Rebecca, who is always effective in a crisis, raced to the entrance of our neighborhood and returned with our daughter and several other students to the safety of our home. 

As a result of the violence she witnessed, my daughter battles post-traumatic stress disorder. Helicopters, crowds, fireworks and anniversaries — all can trigger the anxiety and panic of that day. As parents, Rebecca and I continually plan what we do as a family, what we do NOT do, and how we will calm and distract her when she does panic. This is always and maybe forever for her. 

Karen, I am glad that is not your experience with your child. I am glad your memories are of the brave law enforcement officers running toward danger. (It was in fact hero teachers who were the first responders in this incident — sheltering students, plugging gunshot wounds, saving lives). My daughter’s memories are those of nightmares. Rebecca’s memories are of our daughter’s screams on that panicked phone call. 

I’m glad you fondly remember community solidarity and “Saugus Strong.” For Rebecca and I, “Saugus Strong” is not a feel-good sticker we paste on our cars to virtue-signal our neighbors. For us, “Saugus Strong” is a commitment. It is a responsibility to do what we can to make our campuses violence-free and to make all students feel safe and accepted — the state of mind needed for effective learning. We don’t see community solidarity in “Saugus Strong”; we see hypocrisy when it is paired with a sticker that supports the popular “gun culture” in the SCV. 

Identifying problems that harm students does not demean; it is the first step in solving them. Certain groups promote banning books that present ideas that make them uncomfortable. Who’s the snowflake? Rebecca and I call out the problems. We challenge those in charge to address these problems. We love the William S. Hart Union High School District, and we strive to make it better for all. 

A portion of Rebecca’s speech you failed to include says it best. “We could’ve moved anywhere. But we chose Hart.” Let’s make it a worthy choice for others. 

Rick Hindman


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