Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 30, 2007

It's time to curb police violence

It is a shame that The Sun's first mention of the NAACP's declaration of a "state of emergency" concerning our criminal justice system's unequal and often lethal treatment of African-American youths came in Gregory Kane's column "NAACP alert reeks of hypocrisy" (Nov. 24).

The latest victim of this epidemic was Khiel Coppin, who died in a hail of 20 bullets from five police officers in New York on Nov. 12. He was holding a hairbrush.

At a recent protest in Washington, grieving parents told of their children dying from police overkill.

The "Stolen Lives" report distributed at the protest listed 2,000 youths, mostly African-Americans and Latinos, who have died as a result of police misuse of lethal force since 1999.

And Mr. Kane is wrong to insinuate that the NAACP condones the beating of Justin Barker in Jena, La.

The 50,000 protesters who went to Jena on Sept. 20 demanded equal justice for the Jena 6.

They protested the hanging of nooses from a tree on the Jena High School lawn.

A Louisiana appeals court overturned the conviction of Mychal Bell by an all-white jury for striking Justin Barker because Mr. Bell was improperly tried as an adult.

Keeping Mr. Bell in jail now is an act of judicial revenge.

The hanging of nooses has spread even to the University of Maryland, College Park campus. It is a hate crime ("`Speak-out' urged over noose at UM," Sept. 11).

President Bush long ago should have ordered the Justice Department to crack down on hate crimes as well as on police misuse of lethal force.

Joyce Wheeler

Baltimore

No need to label violence `hate crime'

Clarence Page finds it frustrating that the three white students in Jena, La., who hung nooses in a schoolyard tree were not charged with a hate crime ("Hate crime laws sow confusion and frustration," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 23).

But the reason for this is simple: There was hate but no crime.

The school suspended these youths for their actions but neither the local prosecutor nor the Justice Department could find any law that these young men had broken.

In any case, I think defining some crimes as "hate crimes" is a bad idea.

Say, for instance, American No. 1 dislikes, disapproves of or feels superior to some class of people - a class to which American No. 2 belongs. So he assaults American No. 2.

Was this assault a result of that hatred? And even if it was, hatred is a feeling, a thought that, however repugnant, is still, in America, beyond the reach of the law.

Adding "hate" to "crime" requires judge and jury to be mind readers, something they cannot do.

We should instead focus our efforts on ensuring that no crime is ignored or punished more or less seriously because of the race, sex, ethnicity, etc., of the perpetrator or the victim.

Equal justice under the law should be good enough.

It's as good a solution as we can get.

Jeffry D. Mueller

Eldersburg

Overreaction adds to racial animosity

The letter from Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham Sr., the president of the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, concisely and accurately portrays the significance of the noose as a symbol of hatred and racism ("Noose is still symbol of racism and terror," letters, Nov. 27).

However, the actions of many black people, their supporters and the news media concerning recent displays of nooses only serve to widen the divide between whites and blacks in this country.

Overreaction and hysteria do nothing to address our nation's racial problem. They exacerbate it.

Dennis Sirman

Selbyville, Del.

Tax hikes will force some real sacrifices

The writer of the letter "Ways to withstand modest tax hikes" (Nov. 26) suggested a number of ways to deal with the tax increases in Maryland.

His suggestions may be fine for some people. However, I haven't been able to afford to go to an Oriole game for years; I've never been able to afford a Ravens game; I can't afford cable TV; I don't smoke; I drive a Corolla; I don't drink; and I don't play the lottery.

So perhaps my best solution is to skip one meal a day.

F. James

Randallstown

After reading "Ways to withstand modest tax hikes," I wonder what will happen to the people who don't go to Oriole games (I haven't been to one in years; they're too expensive), don't go to Ravens games, don't have premium channels on our cable TV (never watched them, so I canceled years ago), don't smoke, don't own an SUV, don't drink beer and don't buy lottery tickets.

Yet thanks to our governor, our taxes were raised - in a special session that probably cost us taxpayers a pretty penny.

So now I guess I'll just suffer through on my fixed income (I am retired).

Mary Ann Chenoweth

Parkville

Fixing feral cats aids quality of life

Kudos to the City Council for passing legislation allowing for the humane care of feral cats in our community ("Helping feral cats and their patrons," Nov. 19)

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