We need to get over prejudice
I am writing this letter on my birthday, Dec. 4. But while doing so I am thinking of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and John Crawford III.
I am white. I am now 64.
They are all black. They are all dead. And none of them died of old age like I fully expect to do. They died because of what was in the minds of their killers. A perception that they were violent, unredeemable animals. That their lives do not matter. That their lives have no value. I can think of no other reasonable explanation for their deaths.
When I was in my early twenties, I was attacked, thrown down a flight of stairs and threatened with rape. My attacker was a young black man called Frosty. I was, miraculously, unharmed, but when I was taken to the police station, the cops kept saying, “Don’t worry. We’ll get this critter.” Critter?
For the next few days I had trouble sleeping. Every night when I closed my eyes I would see Frosty’s angry face coming towards me. But in the light of day the next morning, I would also see the faces of Sam, Joe, Charles and Matt. They were all wonderful black men I’d come to know and love at the church I was attending.
Frosty was one black man. One black man who scared me. One black men who threatened me. But could I say from then on that black men are violent? No, just that Frosty was. Could I say from then on that black men are scary? No, just that Frosty was.
As an individual I have learned from this and many other experiences that I can and must not stereotype black men. I know there are some scary, very bad black men. But I also knew there are some very good black men. In 1980 I married one.
Please, please let’s get above and beyond our long held prejudices. I truly believe that all of our lives depend on it.
Marchers correct to protest grand juries
The people who marched in Philadelphia last night (Sunday) and New York and Seattle and Los Angeles and San Francisco and Atlanta were not “leftist radicals,” as some have said. If we had that many radicals in America, we wouldn’t have these issues. We’d have an egalitarian society.
The militarization of the police should worry everyone, not just black Americans. What’s more, President Obama (and I am hardly a fan, since in my opinion, he bows to the right all the time and is more Republican lite than he is a Democrat) has gone out of his way to assuage anger and fear that has been engendered by these outrageous decisions by closed-door, hidden Grand Jury operations that have no place here.
There was video of the attack on Eric Garner. The chokehold was made illegal in 1993. The coroner ruled the death a homicide as a direct result of the chokehold. Policeman Daniel Pateleo should be facing trial. That he isn’t should outrage every person in America, regardless of skin color or political party
Philadelphia paid out $48 million in money to victims of police misconduct in the past two years. That money should have gone to our schools. But it tells us how much is going on that we are not seeing.
Those are the facts. We ignore them at our peril.
Parks, dogs, rules and horses
As we have done so often, a friend and I were riding our horses on the old Thomas Mill Road above the covered bridge off of Forbidden Drive when we were attacked by two large dogs off their leashes. The owner could not control or catch them. My friend was thrown and suffered a concussion. Her horse, in response to the attack, fled at a dead gallop becoming a risk to himself and other people in the park. I believe the dog owner was also hurt in the chaos that ensued during the attack.
Friends of the Wissahickon, has done much to turn the park back into a more wildlife-friendly park by drastically reducing trails and rebuilding others. The existing trails now have had to become multi-use tracks used by all kinds of traffic: foot, equestrian, and bike, etc. We all need to realize that this causes problems if one group or another does not adhere to the rules.
Loose uncontrolled dogs can very quickly become a menace and cause serious injury and risk to others. I have ridden and hiked in the park for 25 years, and the increased use of the park by all kinds of people is evident. We who live in this huge urban area with decreasing open space must adhere to the rules to protect ourselves and allow equal access for all.
Attacks by dogs is not new to the park. I know of at least four on horses alone. The law states that your dog must not only be leashed but controlled at all times. You as a dog owner are liable for the harm they cause. Park authorities need to do more to inform the public of their responsibilities and enforce the penalty of non compliance.