Nancy Santanello (PA): ‘Protesting Is the Bedrock on Which America was Founded’

By | Jun 10, 2020
Nancy Santanello

Nancy Santanello (70),  a Democrat from New Hope, PA, was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism when she married her Jewish husband. At Howard University, she was the only white woman in her medical school class. She spent most of her career at the pharmaceutical company Merck, where she led the Department of Epidemiology for 12 years. She is vocal about politics on Twitter. “Where else,” she says, “can you publicly tell President Trump that he’s a moron?

We are providing the unfiltered opinions of voters interviewed for this project. Those views are based on their understanding and perception of facts and information from a range of sources. In some cases, that information may be misleading or incorrect.

What are your reactions to the protests occurring across the country? Most of the protests have been peaceful. I am extremely heartened to see the young people of America joining the Black Lives Matter protests. In the past, it was often older people who were protesting. Now the young people are passionate and energized to demand an end of the injustice of policing. I am also heartened that there is a broad range of support across many communities regardless of skin color and economic status.  

What are your reactions to the looting, curfews and the police response of pepper spray, rubber bullets and arrests The media features events which are more newsworthy, and often that means showing protestors looting and police using excessive violence against protestors. It works because the right is upset by the looting, and the left is upset by the police violence. I do not condone violence from any side. However, I do recognize the anger and frustration of communities of color when time after time nothing changes. I am disturbed by the excessive force being used by too many police departments. There have been other PDs that have gotten their response right and have tried to align with the protestors and hear their issues. I was very disturbed to see Trump use the police to clear the peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square so that he could do a photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. These protests are not against all police. The protests are pro-justice.

What do you think about the call to “defund” police departments? I am interested to read more about these proposals. We need to find solutions to police violence. If you read the history of policing in America there are links to controlling Blacks and other minorities. Too many police departments employ police who are not reflective of the population they are charged with protecting and too many departments have become militarized.

Have you participated in any demonstrations? I have participated in three local protests where participants wore masks and observed social distancing as much as possible, including a car procession organized by the NAACP. In each case, we had the support of our local police departments. Given my age, I am worried about social distancing due to COVID-19 so I will attend future protests that allow for distance.

How do you think the president has handled this crisis? Trump has botched this crisis from the beginning and has compounded the errors ever since. This crisis requires a leader who can provide a calming, healing, empathetic voice, and can reach out to BLM and other groups. Trump’s reaction was to call himself the “law and order president” and then urge police and military to use violence against protestors. This appeals to his base that sees protestors as anti-American. The irony is that Trump is anti-American. Protesting is the bedrock on which America was founded. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? My daughter and other young attorneys have put together a fundraiser on Facebook and Instagram to raise money for the Equal Justice Initiative, Bail Project and Campaign Zero which all help bring about justice. I am happy to see this type of social activism from young people who recognize the racial disparities in justice.

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