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


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


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


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


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)

The Maryland SPCA works closely with the wonderful cat caretakers featured in the article. We provide the spay and neuter service for these amazing caretakers (often in conjunction with other groups, such as the Maryland Feline Society). Hundreds of cats have been helped by this special partnership.


Fixing feral cats means that animals that would otherwise either breed uncontrollably or be trapped and euthanized now have a chance to survive and are not creating a nuisance in our neighborhoods.

The article did a good job highlighting one way people can come together and make a difference in our city.

Aileen Gabbey


The writer is executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

Armed citizens limit government power


I found one of Wednesday's letters about the Second Amendment, "No intent to protect modern weaponry" (Nov. 28), quite interesting.

A musket with a powder horn and a bag of bullets was a modern weapon in 1776. And any armed militia with modern weapons today wouldn't be carrying muskets; its members would be carrying AK-47s and weapons of that kind.

While the framers of the Constitution couldn't foresee the specifics of automatic weapons, they certainly understood that weapons evolve and improve.

And as for concealable handguns, there were plenty of concealed pistols and knives carried in 1776. Some of the framers probably carried them.

I believe that the intent of the Second Amendment was to do more than allow for a ready militia to support the government. I believe it was also intended to help keep that government in line.

Citizens who are armed have a louder voice than those who are not armed.


Mike Wicklein