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Letters: Shoemaker misunderstands BLM protests; Unfair for Floyd to have funerals when others can’t; Protests will bring about needed change

Shoemaker misunderstands BLM protests

In his response to the “Defund the Police” movement, Del. Shoemaker makes a valid point that there is a need for forceful response to criminal aggressions. He is to be applauded for recognizing the folly of advocating anarchy. In this respect, he is a responsible public servant.

However, he fundamentally misunderstands the current Black Lives Matter protests, and the change that activists are seeking. “Defund the Police” is an unhelpful (and overly provocative) slogan, but it is a good idea. Rather than a call to abandon all law enforcement and give criminals the keys to the city and our homes, “Defunding” is about rethinking the purpose of the police in our society.

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Do the police exist to stop a murder, an assault, or a theft? Every reasonable person would say yes. But should it be their job to evict the homeless from highway underpasses? Maybe not. And how about noise complaints? Neighborhood disputes? Loitering reports? Nuisance wild animals? Child abuse reports? Reports of passing a counterfeit a $20 bill? Perhaps funds for those tasks could go elsewhere, to agencies better able to perform those functions.

We have, without really thinking about it, piled upon our police far more than they are budgeted for, and far more than anybody can be trained for. Expecting them to deal with it is unfair to the officers and often tragic for civilians, because the police toolkit includes lethal force. That the death of George Floyd arose from the suspicion that he passed a fake twenty is beyond insane. And the militarized response to peaceful protest in Washington and elsewhere is shameful and un-American.

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One important point is that the cops are not inherently the bad guys. Another important point is that the system we have allowed to grow around our police is clearly a failure. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, have paid the price for that failure. And our police, our communities, and our country are also its victims.

I did not understand much of this until very recently. I learned by listening to the voices of protesters. That is why I know that standing outside the Westminster library with a sign that says Black Lives Matter is important. It chips away the indifference and ignorance in our community. It forces people to think, and hopefully leads them to really, really see that All Lives Matter (a frequent taunt directed at protesters, along with a middle finger). And that might help lead to justice.

Del. Shoemaker should join us. He would be welcomed with warmth and gratitude.

As one of my favorite Times columnists often writes: I only ask that you think on these things.

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Paul Bendel-Simso

Westminster

Unfair for Floyd to have funerals when others can’t

How is our system fair when George Floyd is allowed three funerals in three states with millions in attendance? But law-abiding citizens are not?

My mother was a lifelong Maryland resident, spending most of her life in Carroll County. My mother died two months ago, my aunt just three weeks later. Was my family given the option to hold a big funeral with friends and family to remember two beautiful souls? No, we weren’t even allowed in the hospital to say our goodbyes because of the virus, the state of Maryland only allowed one designated person to be with her in those final minutes.

At the time we could have had a service of no more than 10 people. Between my mother and stepfather they have six children, with spouses, not to mention grandchildren, great-grands. She was one of five children. How could we not include her sisters, nieces and nephews? Not to mention she was very active in her church and senior center, loved by so many people.

So we waited until we got her ashes back in hopes that restrictions would be lifted. A few days ago the ashes arrived. We called around to a few different options. Now we’re being told only 50 people. How is that equality for all? What makes my mother any less important than George Floyd?

Gwen Buckner

Maynardville, Tennessee (formerly Sykesville)

Protests will bring about needed change

It was a great pleasure to read the “Community Voice” column written by Hannah Gore and printed this week. She made it very clear that much can and needs to be done to change the racial violence cycle that has been going on in the U.S. for over 157 years since Lincoln made the Emancipation Act in January 1863.

I believe that the recent protests against this terrible situation will finally bring about some major changes in our society.

Kurt Wenzing Jr.

Westminster

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