After the shooting, city needs calm, reflective healingThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 25, 1999

After the shooting, city needs calm, reflective healing

The recent shooting death of a Baltimore resident by a Baltimore police officer is terribly troubling and should concern the entire community. A life has been lost, and many lives have been shattered by the events which culminated on Barclay Street.

At this time, the city does not need irresponsible, inciteful rhetoric. It does need a thorough, impartial investigation of the matter and a more comprehensive examination of the conditions which make such incidents almost inevitable.

Reports indicate at least seven investigations of the shooting are underway.

As director of the Baltimore Community Relations Commission, I urge everyone to act responsibly and offer full cooperation, so the designated, independent fact-finders can get to the truth.

I further urge the community not to rush to judgment, but to allow the investigations to be completed.

The family of the deceased has retained a high-profile legal team, and it is well within its rights to do so.

But the focus should not be on their legal team, but on the facts of this case, and the healing this city will need regardless of its outcome.

Like the rest of the nation, Baltimore still struggles with issues of race -- and when both issues of race and police conduct are present, the struggle becomes more intense for everyone.

But let's use this bad situation to address collectively the polarizing grip race has on our community.

I guarantee that this it will be painful for everyone who seriously endeavors to understand the impact that real or perceived racism has had on us all.

But I can also guarantee that this pain will fall far short of the pain experienced by Larry Hubbard, Officer Barry H. Hamilton and their families.

Alvin O. Gillard, Baltimore

Protesting shooting was not `loony'

In Gregory Kane's latest predictable defense of a violation of African-Americans' civil rights, he once again positions himself as the only black voice of reason in a controversial situation. And the rest of us are "loony" ("Hubbard's shooting brings out lunacy," Oct. 16).

Talk about lunacy: how does Mr. Kane figure that the murder of a handcuffed young man by police officers is justified because some citizens are afraid of young men "not unlike" Larry Hubbard?

While I share the concerns of the Rosemont seniors and Korean businessmen Mr. Kane mentioned, I resent his suggestion that protesters at the Pratt Library participated in loony-ness.

I'm sure many of the protesters also identify with the concerns of those seniors. However, the murder of young African-Americans by those sworn to protect them is obviously a more urgent matter.

As always, Mr. Kane misses the point on African-American issues. The protest wasn't about Larry Hubbard's death; it was about his murder.

Lawrence T. Jenkins, Baltimore

To stop the violence, get rid of rotten apples

Thanks to Dan Rodricks for a balanced perspective in his column, "Get rid of bad cops but focus on big picture" (Oct. 20).

The city definitely has police officers who should be working in State Use Industries. But that's no reason to disparage or ignore the other valiant servants who respond daily to our emergency calls.

I also think it's time that citizens defined what we require of our police officers. Do we want recreation leaders with police powers or law enforcement officers with people skills?

I have lived in Baltimore all of my life. I know we can live better. "Zero tolerance" can improve our quality of life. It doesn't have to translate into police abuse.

But rotten apples must go. It does not matter whether they are in police uniforms, baggy pants or wool business suits.

Nancy M. Dennis, Baltimore

Dan Rodricks' column "Get rid of bad cops but focus on big picture" should be required reading for all city residents.

This is not just a black or white issue. As state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran has said, it's "an epidemic of violent yet preventable death."

It's time all citizens and politicians take a stands against violence and its great cause, the poverty in our city. Even in a robust economy, many city residents don't have opportunity.

If Larry Hubbard Jr. had the opportunity to earn a decent living, he might not have been getting out of a stolen car.

How many other city residents feel the need to sell drugs, steal cars and commit other crimes because of addiction and lack of opportunity?

Bill Burnham, Baltimore

We have crime because crime pays

State Attorney General Joseph Curran asserted that "only certain people should have handguns. The rest must give them up." That's easy for him to say; he has 24-hour police protection.

People choose to do good or evil and no law will change that. We will always have crime -- not because of an estimated 70 million guns in America, but because crime pays. It's economics.

The threat of prison deters most people, but the few who choose crime need more deterrents. We look to government for help finding ways to isolate people who can't live in civil society.

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