In disrupting rally, Bell's supporters crossed the lineI...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 11, 1999

In disrupting rally, Bell's supporters crossed the line

I was appalled at the attempt last Thursday by 50 supporters of City Council President Lawrence A. Bell to disrupt Councilman Martin O'Malley's rally and prevent Del. Howard P. Rawlings and other Maryland legislators from speaking in favor Mr. O'Malley.

After reading The Sun's article about the incident, which characterized the these actions as breaking "the unwritten rules of political engagement," and crossing the "line of political etiquette" ("Lawmakers endorse O'Malley," Aug. 6), I turned to the editorial page, expecting to see a strong condemnation of such anti-democratic tactics. I found none.

A violation of "political etiquette" is what Mr. Bell did earlier last week, when he called his opponent a back stabber and a hypocrite.

But the attempt to prevent another candidate and his supporters from speaking in public is nothing less than political thuggery.

It is the kind of action one might expect from a South American dictator, not a serious candidate for mayor of a major American city.

Stephen Shapiro

Baltimore

Julius Henson knows as little about civility and fairness as he does about the First Amendment.

After organizing an effort to drown out the speech of elected officials announcing their support for Councilman Martin O'Malley, Mr. Henson said, "People have an absolute right to assemble. I don't think it was a disruption. It was held in a public place" ("Lawmakers endorse O'Malley," Aug. 6).

No one has a right to heckle and interfere with someone else's speech. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that speakers have a First Amendment right "to be free from interruption by disorderly outside elements intent upon disruption."

Samuel I. Rosenberg, Baltimore

The writer represents the 42nd District in the Maryland House of Delegates. He has endorsed Mr. O'Malley.

Misbehavior at rally clarifies mayoral choice

I would actually like to thank Lawrence A. Bell III's supporters who disrupted the Martin O'Malley rally in downtown Baltimore last Thursday. Although, as Julius Henson stated, they had the right to assemble, Mr. Bell's supporters should have done as our parents taught us and shown some respect.

Their actions were in total disrespect to Mr. O'Malley not just as a candidate but as a man. I was appalled at what I read in the paper and saw on the television news.

I would hope that, as adults, Mr. Bell's supporters would set an example for our children -- not rant and rave like a bunch of children.

So I want to thank Mr. Bell's supporters for helping me reduce by one my possible choice for mayor.

Their behavior at Mr. O'Malley's rally showed me that Mr. Bell is not the candidate I want my daughter learning about in her history classes.

Cheryl Barton

Baltimore

Lawrence Bell is working for a united Baltimore

In response to Michael Olesker's column "Can mayoral hopefuls avoid temptation of race as issue?" (Aug. 3), the answer is "yes."

City Council President Lawrence Bell announced when he began running for mayor that he was for one Baltimore -- not East Baltimore or West Baltimore or South Baltimore or North Baltimore, but one Baltimore.

In his eight years as a councilman and four years as the president of the city council, Mr. Bell has worked diligently with a diverse city council.

I pray Mr. Olesker will look at Mr. Bell's work and leadership and see that he is the man to be the next mayor of Baltimore.

The Rev. John H. Davis

Baltimore

The writer is pastor of Mount Gilboa African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Toss marginal candidates and focus on the issues

The slew of candidates running for mayor of Baltimore needs to be narrowed -- immediately. Baltimore's voters are being cheated by the presence in the race of several candidates who know they stand no chance to become mayor.

The playing around in the mayor's race should end now.

Let's focus on real candidates and real issues -- specifics about reducing class sizes in our public schools, ensuring public safety through effective community policing, economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

These are issues that truly matter to this city.

Solomon I. Omo-Osagie II

Baltimore

Legal work shouldn't count against O'Malley

As a practicing criminal defense attorney, I read with great interest The Sun's article reporting that Councilman Martin O'Malley's "opponents . . . say his actions are hypocritical," (O'Malley defense efforts criticized," Aug. 4) because he is campaigning for tougher crime-fighting strategies, while defending criminal cases as a defense attorney.

These opponents, it seems to me, need to search deeper for legitimate criticisms of Councilman O'Malley's qualifications to be Baltimore's next mayor.

It would appear obvious that before a problem is remedied, it needs to be understood. Who knows better the problems in our courts than active participants in the judicial process?

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