Amadou's Voice

After drying my tears shed while reading Frank Serpico's article "Amadou's Ghost: Diallo Speaks to Serpico" [March 14], I had to write to you.

God bless this man and all that he stands for. Now, finally, Amadou Diallo has a voice—a voice that should reach to the highest courts and political powers to get a federal prosecutor to come to New York City and get into this case, and right this wrong.

Still crying for Diallo,

Nadine Johnson

Haunted by Fear

The Amadou Diallo case haunts me as it does Frank Serpico. I found the acquittal of the four police officers who shot Diallo extremely frightening.

As a black woman, I sincerely fear for my husband, father, and teenage brother who must go out into the world each day. Now, in addition to the average criminal on the street, I have to worry that some police officer might feel "threatened" by their presence and make a "horrible mistake," as the defense characterized the Diallo shooting.

I feel, as Mr. Serpico suggested, that police officers should be governed by a stricter authority, and that they should be held more accountable for their actions.

Takisha Sexton

Buried, Betrayed

Thank you for Rebecca Segall's extremely important article "Boro Park Betrayed" [February 29]. Police brutality crosses both racial and religious lines. The case of my son, Gidone Busch, may well have been a reflection of both political and religious issues, and definitely was one of police brutality. It is possible there was some anti-Semitism involved here that has been washed over due to the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

As Ms. Segall noted, they found it necessary to create a false picture in order to justify the shooting and keep the Jews in the community silent. Apparently it had just that effect. There are strong ties to the Giuliani administration. This is a story that needed to be told, and we cannot let this case die. There was a huge effort on the part of the D.A., the police department, and the mayor to bury this case, but the truth is slowly starting to come out.

My son was a religious, sensitive person who would often try to help the homeless by giving extra food to them and occasionally a few dollars, because he always felt that there were those less fortunate who needed help. Hundreds of people from all over came to pay their respects at his funeral and later at the home where he grew up. He touched many people's lives with his intelligence, sensitivity, and warmth. Witnesses can attest that he was not threatening anyone, he had no gun or knife, and stood eight feet from the six or more officers who surrounded him with guns drawn. They had to have been more of a threat to Gidone than he could have been to them.

Unbelievably, there was no indictment. However, we know that a D.A. and a prosecuting attorney can conveniently present an incomplete, one-sided picture. The cover-up that followed should be enough to open this case up to the federal authorities and get some justice for Gidone.

My family and I have been unable to rest since Gidone was needlessly killed, as so many others have been before and since.

Thank you for your help.

Doris Busch Boskey
Dix Hills, Long Island

Savage Attack

Dan Savage's response to a 15-year-old heroin user debating whether to tell a sex partner about his drug use left me gape-mouthed and feeling stung [Savage Love, February 22]. Savage calls the writer a "young skank" and admonishes him with a very standard recitation of the dangers of heroin and speed. Junkies are exposed to this sort of derision every day. This does not motivate people to seek treatment.

Savage scolds the writer back into the far recesses of the closet so that we don't have to hear his dirty concerns. It's a surefire way to guarantee that no one is going to seek help until the problems are beyond solving. How handy: Everyone keeps their drug use to themselves.

The relationship between drugs, sexual risk, and HIV is well-known. Needle-exchange programs work with the realities of drugs and sex, offering intelligent, realistic advice for drug users who are already very familiar withabstinence-based ideology.

Savage's art is his ability to blend sarcasm and wit with no-bullshit insightful and responsible advice on risky sex and bigotry. But in this case, the kid might as well have written to federal drug czar Barry McCaffrey.

Corinne Carey
Staff Attorney
Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center

Dan Savage replies: Ms. Carey chides me for calling a heroin user skanky—which I did as much for his behavior toward his sex partner as for his heroin use—but barely acknowledges the fact that everyone gets called names in my column, including me. She also asserts that admonishments don't motivate addicts to seek treatment, which may well be true, but fails to tell us what does. Assuming that motivating heroin users to seek treatment is my responsibility, what does Ms. Carey suggest I tell skanky young heroin users? As for comparing me to drug czar Barry McCaffrey, I'm a supporter of needle exchange, the complete legalization of drugs (including heroin), and responsible drug use—and not all use, as I've pointed out many times, is abuse. That said, however, I don't think heroin is good for children and other living things, and I will so admonish any 15-year-old heroin user who asks me for advice.

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