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The Mechanicsville Local letters to the editor: Week of 6/9/2021
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The Mechanicsville Local letters to the editor: Week of 6/9/2021

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Study proves Blacks more likely to be targeted

I would like to respond to (the many) op-eds by Daniel Corso, but I will direct my response primarily to his claim that there is little evidence of systemic racism within police departments in our country. 

First, to his “proof” from Bureau of Justice Statistics report, I have to wonder if he actually looked at the study.

In the national BJS 2018 study, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpp15.pdf , its highlighted findings include:

“When police initiated the contact, Blacks (5.2%) and Hispanics (5.1%) were more likely to experience the threat or use of physical force than whites (2.4%) . . .” That means if you’re Black in the U.S., you’re more than twice as likely to be treated or threatened with violence by the police than a white person. 

Citing not one more piece of evidence, Corso illogically concludes “there’s a preponderance of evidence” to refute the claim of systemic racism in policing. 

He says Derek Chauvin is just a bad apple, we should forget it, and be happy Blacks and whites “stand in line together” now. He makes no attempt to speak to systemic racism.

Statistics aside, people cannot deny what they have seen and continue to see over and over and over through actual footage -- that, in general, Black people are treated with much more hostility by police than white people.  

Does every video clearly show abuse by police? No. Do all police treat Blacks poorly? Of course not, but we’ve seen too many incidents with our own eyes to not be skeptical anymore, and to not question all the processes that come together to allow such violence to occur time and time again.  

George Floyd’s murder was the straw that broke the camel’s back and opened people’s eyes.

A recent egregious example of institutional racism was the family that was informed by police their loved one died in an automobile accident. Police video from the incident -released under FOIA -- reveals a much more sinister cause of death at the hands of officers.  

Systemic racism in policing does not just refer to police officers’ direct actions. In this case, many layers of people at the department facilitated the cover-up.

The fact that many urban cities have police departments whose officers (mostly white) don’t reflect the population they serve (largely Black) is another common institutional issue within policing.

What about many states’ laws that allow an officer to respond with deadly force if she/he thinks their life may be in danger?

That’s a system that has lets murderers in uniforms off too many times, as we’ve also seen too often. Many people were shocked that Derek Chauvin was found guilty, not because he didn’t seem guilty, but because white police tend to be found innocent in a racist system.  

The argument could be made that systemic racism begins in schools. I recall clearly my Northern-raised mother being dismayed when my older brother, a student in a Richmond school, came home with a history lesson about the Civil War. “It’s a completely different story!” she exclaimed with shock.

Was her Northern-taught version of the War Between the States more factual? Not necessarily, but it goes to show that we who have been raised in the South may have been given a slanted view of events that whitewashed slavery.

I graduated college summa cum laude but never even heard of Emmett Till until a couple years ago when I happened to see a documentary about him.

When schools perpetuate the idea of greatness connected to men who fought, literally and figuratively, for the owning of other persons, that’s systemic racism. 

As an older white female, I’ve had multiple instances with police officers in my life, and none of my interactions has been objectionable, and I am appreciative of officers’ willingness to risk their life in their line of work.

But when we live in a culture where Black parents have to have “the talk” with their children about the dangers of interactions with police officers, there must be reform. 

Mr. Corso quotes Abe Lincoln and JFK, praises MLK Jr., and berates “progressives.” That strikes me as ironic because all three were regarded as frighteningly progressive in their day. 

I will end by reminding Daniel Corso, who bemoans the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t recited in schools anymore (is that a fact?) that, in it, we Americans pledge “liberty and justice for ALL.”

Nancy Patterson 

Glen Allen

Do not leave children strapped in a hot car

Well, it is that time of year again when we will see articles in the newspaper, internet or TV, “Child dies in hot car”. It sickens all of us. A human being strapped in a car seat and has its brain cooked in a 125-degree environment is heart-wrenching.

Of course we hear, “It was just an accident”. “I forgot because I was late for a meeting”. “I just went into the grocery store for just a minute and starting talking to a friend and lost the track of time”. Ladies and gentlemen, there is no such thing as “an accident”. Because of our action, the result was not what we had intended but it still happened.

When a person takes the responsibility to provide the safety and well-being of another, that is that person’s sole responsibility and if he or she fails to fulfill that responsibility, he or she must be held accountable. No excuses, don’t try to whitewash it, it was a failure and that failure must be addressed and consequences must be administered.

If you see a child or pet in a vehicle alone, call law enforcement immediately.

The air in a vehicle can reach 125 degrees in just a few minutes. When calling the authorities, give the license number, make of vehicle and color. Try to observe the vehicle from a safe distance until law enforcement arrives.

A possible solution is to have a mechanism attached to a car seat that will automatically sound an alarm when the driver’s door is opened. A child dying because someone failed to fulfill their ultimate responsibility in assuring the safety and well-being of that child is inexcusable and severe consequences should be administered.

Dan Johnson

Montpelier

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