Editor’s note: Below is a signed statement the Independent received Sunday afternoon from Rich Yurewicz apologizing for his actions Saturday morning, when he disrupted an India Independence Day celebration in Hopkinton.
Dear members of the Hopkinton community,
My name is Rich Yurewicz and on Saturday morning I rode my motorcycle around the Hopkinton Town Common during a celebration of India Day.
I am writing this letter to apologize directly to attendees of yesterday’s gathering — and to all members of the Hopkinton community, both for the way I behaved and for disrupting your peaceful Saturday morning. Despite my intentions, I hurt people with my behavior. I can’t take it back, but I can commit to learn from this and to change. I commit to ask questions, to seek to understand, and to think before I act.
My actions were wrong. I will not dispute that. I reacted emotionally at the idea that the American flag was to be lowered and replaced by the flag of another country. I am human and not without fault. In these uncertain times, where it is now common to hear reports of our flag being disrespected, I jumped to the conclusion that this was happening here — in our town — and felt I had to take a stand.
I want you to all know that being American, the freedoms that we stand for, honoring those who fought to give us those freedoms, and the flag — have always been my core values. My father died in Vietnam. I never met him, but I attribute my pride of country to what I believe he stood for. It is the fabric of who I am, and the way I lead my life.
Like many of us, I have spent a great deal of time this summer thinking about what has shaped my life, what it means to be white, and what it means to be inclusive. I believe racism is complicated, and we all have blind spots. I openly discuss this with my family and friends, and as uncomfortable as these conversations can be, they are necessary for us to move forward. I teach my three young children to be kind, to be loving and to be brave. My family is actively involved with the community, schools, local sports and have extensive roots in this town. I say that so you can understand how much it means to us to see this town maintain its sense of pride in community and ensure that all feel welcome.
I will not act defensive to what you interpret my actions to have meant. You are entitled to your own opinion and freedom of speech — this is an American value that so greatly defines us. My only request is that you do not judge my children, or their mother, and that perhaps you take a step back and allow this to be what it was — a poorly executed sense of patriotism.
In closing, I want to apologize again for my behavior on Saturday, and to let you know that I wholeheartedly share your belief that hate, and racism have no place here in Hopkinton – or anywhere. Perhaps my misguided actions will somehow inspire more open dialogue and a greater sense of community for all who call Hopkinton home.