Baltimore's homeless need help from city, not more...


March 12, 2002

Baltimore's homeless need help from city, not more persecution

The city's disapproving response to Baltimore's ranking as one of the top 12 "meanest" cities for the treatment of homeless people further illustrates why our ranking was appropriate ("City's record on homeless criticized," March 5).

Homelessness directly reflects a flawed economic, education and health care system. To criminalize homelessness is inhumane, especially as many homeless people have untreated, severe mental illnesses.

Better mental health and substance abuse treatment services are central to addressing the needs of the homeless.

And we as a city cannot afford to be insensitive to those on the street. Many Americans are one paycheck away from bankruptcy, and people are being laid off at high rates; homelessness is not that far away for many of us.

Homelessness is not a criminal act. Most homeless people have landed in this stigmatized state through circumstances beyond their control.

Let us not blame and persecute homeless people for Baltimore city's failures.

Esa D. Washington


Contrary to what Mayor Martin O'Malley believes, the criminalization of homelessness has nothing to do with police targeting the homeless for law enforcement.

The equal enforcement of laws related to public drinking, urinating or sleeping is unfair to the homeless, because they don't have the option of doing these things in private. And those saddled with criminal records find it all but impossible to obtain the housing and employment needed to get a private space to call home.

Until we provide affordable housing for all, it will always be unjust to arrest individuals for simply living the very public life of homelessness.

J. Peter Sabonis


The writer is executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project Inc.

Shooting by FBI agent cannot be justified

I have read with disbelief the horrific account of the young, unarmed Eagle Scout who was complying with an FBI agent's order to get out of his car when he was inexplicably shot at point-blank range in the face by an FBI agent ("FBI apologizes in shooting of man mistaken for robber," March 6).

Based on these facts (and other witnesses' accounts in The Sun), there is no possible circumstance under which the FBI agent's action was reasonable.

Jacqueline Scott


Veteran officer's retirement hurts the fight against crime

The abrupt retirement of Maj. Donald E. Healy because of alleged racial profiling will prove to be Baltimore's loss and, more important, a step backward for those who care more about the real issues (fighting crime) than whether some politician's feelings get bent out of shape because of the way a dedicated 29-year police veteran attempted to expedite the apprehension of a lowlife who brutally raped an African-American woman ("City police major retires abruptly," March 6).

If Mr. Healy had a past history of racial profiling, then he should have never been placed in such a high position; if his record is void of any such allegations, then anyone with common sense can see he meant no harm to anyone other than the rapist.

What a total waste of experience.

J. Pusateri


Jerusalem neighborhood welcomes outsiders

Peter Hermann wrote that the Beit Yisrael neighborhood in Jerusalem that was recently attacked by terrorists is "not welcoming to outsiders, with signs posted at its entrances warning women to dress conservatively and not to walk through unless accompanied by a man" ("Sixteen Israelis killed in two attacks," March 3).

I have been to that neighborhood, and the residents are very warm people and extremely welcoming to outsiders. No one is warned to dress conservatively, and there are no rules that women have to be accompanied by a man.

And I question why these false statements were mentioned, unless it was to make it look as if the victims deserved to be attacked.

C. Alan Feinstein


The demise of MSPAP should be celebrated ...

The impending demise of MSPAP should be celebrated, not mourned ("Coming apart at the seams," March 6). I know this as a parent of three children (miraculously) educated in the Baltimore public schools - in spite of MSPAP.

Mike Bowler is sad for the wrong reason. The thing to be sad about is that with MSPAP gone, something new will take its place. Something stupid like "evaluation by interpretive dance" or "aroma math." Or that the professionals in charge seem to have forgotten how to teach. They seem so interested in finding something revolutionary, they have lost track of the basics.

As a result, Baltimore's teachers and administrators can look forward to five years of adjusting to the next fad.

Gary Harkness


... as it will free students to learn for learning's sake

Reading the editorial "Bye-bye MSPAP" (March 6) confused me quite a bit. Why would administrators want to continue using a test that is obviously outdated and has a history of inaccuracy?

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