Double standard on race saves city solicitor Why is it...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 07, 2002

Double standard on race saves city solicitor

Why is it that City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. can refer to our police officers as "white Gestapo" and get support from the mayor ("O'Malley stands behind solicitor in row with police," May 2), when a police officer lost his job simply because he issued a memo requesting that all black men around a particular bus stop be stopped and questioned regarding the rape of a woman?

He gets the mayor's complete support? He doesn't even get a slap on the wrist? Why the double standard?

Terri Fields

Baltimore

It is a shame Mayor Martin O'Malley did not have the same compassion for the white police major who gave the unfortunate directive to stop black males near a bus stop when police were searching for a rapist as he has for his law school buddy, City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr.

Mary McCracken

Laurel

I read with disgust about the encounter between City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. and Baltimore police officers.

What bothered me most was that Mr. Zollicoffer's anger went toward the police, not his nephew, even though I am sure he was well aware of his nephew's criminal record.

How can an educated man find fault with officers trying to do their job, and defend a known criminal?

Carole Wiseman

Cub Hill

I just have one question: What would be going on now if Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. were white, the two policemen black, and he called them a racially charged name?

Mr. Zollicoffer would have been fired already and there would be demonstrations in the streets.

This is just another example of the double standard regarding racism in Baltimore and throughout this country.

Rob Mandelberg

Owings Mills

City police violated sanctity of the home

The war on drugs in Baltimore has been waged disproportionately against black Americans, who are sent to prison on drug charges at more than 10 times the rate of white men - most of the time for nonviolent offenses.

Thus many blacks in Baltimore, or their close friends or relatives, have encountered the police in this "zero tolerance" world. That may account for the way City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer challenged the legality of the police action ("O'Malley stands behind solicitor in row with police," May 2).

But here's an even more basic question: What were police officers doing in a citizen's home without a warrant?

Our nation's founders, victims of abusive British searches themselves, wrote the Bill of Rights to protect our "persons, houses, papers, and effects" against "unreasonable searches and seizures." The Constitution usually requires police officers to obtain a search warrant from a judge before barging into our homes.

When Mr. Zollicoffer's sister demanded that the police leave her home, the law required that they go.

If the police engaged in such heavy-handed tactics in a high-visibility case, what do they do when they think no one is watching?

Susan Goering

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Maryland ACLU.

Criticism of an uncle in distress was unfair

I am disappointed with The Sun's coverage of the incident involving City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. and the arrest of his nephew ("O'Malley stands behind solicitor in row with police," May 2).

When viewed in the light of day, this story is about nothing more than a man briefly showing questionable judgment at a time of personal anguish.

Who among us cannot sympathize with his initial emotional response during a moment of family crisis?

The Sun's decision to exploit Mr. Zollicoffer's distress is unfortunate.

Douglas W. Desmarais

Baltimore

The city solicitor is loyal to his family; the mayor is loyal to his law school chum.

Yet The Sun's editorial, apparently blind to these displays of Boy Scout virtue ("Apologies aside," May 5), carps rather than applauds.

More criticism of this sort, and municipal servants may choose to stop doing their daily good deeds. Could we really survive that?

Milton Bates

Baltimore

Saving environment benefits all of us

The column "State's Democrats progressive, prudent" (Opinion * Commentary, May 1) failed to enumerate the important environmental accomplishments not only of this session, but of this administration's previous legislative sessions.

These include the Smart Growth initiative, which is now being replicated by other states; the Rural Legacy program to preserve open space; significant additions to wild lands across the state; closing loopholes in the Critical Areas Law; extending protection for coastal bays; and providing the state the ability to issue safe drinking water standards.

Marylanders should be thankful our governor and legislative leadership are progressive about environmental matters because, in the long run, protecting our air, water and open spaces benefit the life-support systems we all rely upon.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

Most priests serve with honor, devotion

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