Letters for September 19, 2002

Lethal training

Re “Is This A Lethal Weapon?” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, September 12):

A hitherto staunch supporter of law enforcement, I was appalled by what I read in this feature article.

The evidence put forth by SN&R is compelling and convincing. This was a needless death and a classic example of a veteran officer abrogating his responsibility and allowing a rookie to run amok. Officer Underhill needs to find a different line of work, and Officer Marshall needs some re-training.

Danalee Lavelle

CYA time in El Dorado County

Re “Is This a Lethal Weapon?” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, September 12):

Sounds like El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is in the process of practicing cover-your-ass—big time!

It’s always unfortunate when these types of senseless deaths occur at the hands of law-enforcement officers. Officers have a tough job. Let’s face it—it’s dangerous work. If any law-enforcement officers say that they are not in fear of their lives in stressful, potentially life-threatening situations, they’re probably lying. However, these two guys, a four-week rookie and a 12-year veteran, really screwed up.

At every opportunity, the senior officer and veteran Marshall failed to supervise and take control of the situation. CYA time.

As for Underhill, it’s obvious that he lacked experience (among other things). The motorcycle presented a problem for these two guys, not to mention Wallen. Did Underhill and Marshall think the bike was going to remain upright during a struggle with an unresponsive and unpredictable suspect? Marshall’s experience failed to defuse the situation. CYA time.

Facing legal action, the El Dorado County Sheriff Department’s response? CYA. Deny any wrongdoing. “The suspect was armed and dangerous, brandishing handcuffs. The officers’ actions under the circumstances were justified. … Blah, blah, blah.” Yeah, right.

Poorly and inadequately trained is an understatement.

Dwain Barefield
via e-mail

Grief never ending

Re “No More Closure” by Jim Bren (SN&R Guest Comment, September 5):

Here I was, halfway through the article, all ready to fire off some sort of liberal counterpoint to Jim Bren’s guest comment. I was going to say stuff like, “Well, Jim, aren’t you grateful that you live in a place where you get to say stuff like this and no one decapitates you?” And, “How the hell can you be over it when so many of us are still plodding along trying to figure out how to deal with it?” I was really going to kick some computer-geek ass.

Then I got to the bottom line and read it again. When I looked at Jim’s face, I saw more there than in the words he wrote. And he’s absolutely right: This is one of those events for which there is no closure, no matter what you do or how much time goes by. Jim’s been through it in his way, and, for sanity’s sake, he’s gone on to other things. He knows you could grieve for the rest of your life, and it would never be over. Twenty years from now, if you asked those bereaved by the attacks when closure came to them, they’d look at you as if you had two heads.

I’m glad I took the time to look again because I can see from Jim’s eyes that he’s serious as hell. I’m sure he has a lot more to say, but what he just said is good enough for me. There is a major lack of dignity in our blockbuster treatment of a catastrophic event. He hears “9/11” at least once a day, and he knows that he does not have to be reminded constantly of the magnitude of our loss. For some, Jim’s viewpoint may not be a popular one, but it’s as valid as anyone else’s.

I wish I could say I was over it, but we don’t grieve according to some schedule or an arbitrary set of rules. For me, the anguish of this incident will probably linger like the pain of a phantom limb.

Carol Cullens

Doves for dollars

Re “Fly with Republican Doves” (SN&R Editorial, September 5):

Your editorial praising Brent Scowcroft, a former aide of Bush Sr., for publicly opposing Bush Jr.’s anti-Iraq rhetoric forgot to mention one key item: Scowcroft is a highly paid lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, so he’s representing his client.

Don’t jump to conclusions about these Republicans—they’re all representing various wealthy interest groups.

Bob Mulholland

Muslim stereotypes

Re “A Separate Peace” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, September 5):

The terrorist events of September 11 are not the primary source of the ill feelings Americans may have toward Muslims. It is clear that all Muslims are not violent, but we continue to hear bad news about the Middle East. Over the years, there have been numerous hijackings, athletes being murdered during the Olympics in Munich, the bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993, the attack on the USS Cole, and numerous other events in which Muslims were the source of the violence. The cultural events that include executions at soccer fields, honor killings, genital mutilation against women, and death by stoning are just difficult to understand. We see no peace, love or acceptance in these activities. Then there is the endless stream of suicide bombers who seek to kill civilians. If Americans have a negative stereotype about Muslims, it is largely these actions throughout many years.

I find it unfortunate that the United States is blamed and held responsible for circumstances that exist in the Middle East. Because of oil, billions of American dollars have flowed into these countries. Have you ever wondered why all those people still live in poverty? The wealth from oil stays in the hands of a select few. These billionaire princes have let their people down, have perpetrated violence and hate and have waged war against the very people who gave them their wealth. I am not suggesting that they give the money away, but much could be done to invest in infrastructure to support commerce and education and to generate a better life. They blame others for the injustices that they themselves created. It is sad, pointless nonsense to blame the Americans. Instead of criticizing American foreign policy, perhaps they could take a look at their own personal and domestic policies.

Americans are a generous people and have welcomed people from all over the world. All who choose to work have been successful in the United States. No, it is not a perfect process, but prosperity and liberty are available for everyone in the United States. We want peace, but make no mistake. We will not stand idly by and have our children’s freedom and future threatened. I ask and beg the Muslim community to pressure their governments to take a stand for peace and put an end to this cycle of spiritual poverty. We can coexist and be successful together, but peace must come first.

Richard Frankhuizen

Greed is not that good

Re “Laboring over Reports” (Capital Bites, September 5):

Big-business interests again appear to be winning over the interests of the people and the environment. The idea that “greed is good” has gotten us into the economic mess we experience today. A handful of corporate bigwigs seem to have the idea that their self-interest is equivalent to the public good.

Therefore, Enron executives pocketed millions while their employees’ pensions went up in smoke.

People and nature get trampled upon when big business is left unrestrained. Greed is not that good.

Unfortunately, it took the energy crisis, dot-com meltdown and corporate scandals to awaken us to our condition. One worker now often does what two people did before. Job security and pensions are like things of the past for those in the private sector.

But nothing will change if the populace does not act. There are a lot of crocodile tears being shed now, but attitudes haven’t changed yet. They won’t change until the will of the people is felt via the media, the voting booth and the pocketbook.

Paul Manansala

A call for praise

Re “A Call For Unity” (SN&R Insert, September 5):

I want to send a big thank you and congratulations to Jeff vonKaenel, Jacqueline Schultz and every single person connected to A Call For Unity at the Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday, September 11.

From “Amazing Grace” to “God Bless America,” it was an evening of pure heart. I feel blessed to live in such a diverse, talented and caring community. I just have to say that Jennifer Smith and Jack Gallagher are a class act, and Officer Jim Harris rocked the house!

Chris Hille