Home of the Brave
A big up for the Peter Noel piece "If a Cop Kills My Son, I Will Kill the Cop" [April 11]. It was courageous to print it. More courageous to write it.
I pray, however, that such courage never has to be put into action for any of our sons, brothers, or fathers of any race.
Marc Anthony Thompson
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Peter Noel's article feeds into the thinking that makes cops feel justified in their profiling policies. And coming from such an obviously intelligent writer, it is beyond disturbing.
As an African American with Jamaican ties, I can understand the passion behind Noel's words, but to advocate violence . . . where would that leave us? Surely a smarter solution is possible. Not one that involves, inevitably, three dead people: Mr. Noel's son, the police officer, and Mr. Noel.
Flushing, New York
Tracks of My Tears
As I stood on the subway platform reading the final paragraphs of Peter Noel's article, a surge of emotion swept over me and tears filled my eyes. I turned away from the crowd, holding the Voice to my heaving chest. Peter Noel's reporting on the New York Police Department's murderous rampages throughout the city has been continuously spectacular. But his most recent article is by far the most outstanding.
Mr. Noel described the black rage that consumes so many of us in the most eloquent form to date. Will white America ever understand this rage? Will they ever even try?
As a black woman, I fear for the life of my brother, my nephew, and my unborn sons. I too would consider the same actions as Mr. Noel if an officer murdered a member of my family.
Asking a Lot
I can understand Peter Noel's pain. I'm also a father, and I can't imagine what my reaction would be if one of my boys was taken away like that. I just don't know whether taking out the cop would be the answer. I guess I'm considering all the pain I'd leave behind for my wife.
I know that the anger to actually take out the officer would be there. I don't know if I'd want to subject my surviving relatives to the retribution of the authorities.
West Orange, New Jersey
Silent No More
I know the "big-eye boy" of whom Peter Noel speaks. Right now, he's enjoying his morning nap. Oh, to be seven months old again! His brothersnow 15 and 12napped around this time of day when they were new and unafraid. Before a price was placed on their heads. We have tried to make a happy life for our sons. We have taught them right from wrong. We have challenged stereotypes and discrimination wherever we have found them.
We found the best public schools and sent them there. We used our privileges to make a difference in their lives. We committed to share our gifts with our communities. But still I'm afraid. I become angry when shopkeepers follow my six-foot-three baby through the store. I say, "He's with me" and "What's your problem?" He won't always be with me. I can't always be there. I have taught my sons what to do if stopped by a cop. I demonstrate what "Put your hands on your head" means.
Did my suburban mother teach me this? Repeat after me: I live here. Louder! I LIVE HERE. I don't have a gun. LOUDER! You must not let them kill you. You must not die. How can one be expected to remain calm as our children are taken from us? I will not be calm. I will not be silent.
As a reader from Canada but a lover of New York City, I found Peter Noel's article about his theoretical retaliation against brutal cops very disturbing. Although it is easy to understand that police are sometimes guilty of brutality and/or racism (Mayor Giuliani's rhetoric has at times seemed insensitive, if not apologetic for such attitudes), there is a problem with Mr. Noel's consciously inflammatory, and dangerous, article.
Mr. Noel uses a lot of irrelevant hyperbole in making his point; for instance, if he is trying to say that his "West Indian" idea of justice is at odds with the American one, then he's surely headed down a slippery slope. And to allude to some outdated "black rage" social theories as reasoning for "copicidal fantasies"talk about a counterproductive agenda!
Thank you for Nat Hentoff's "A Sudanese Woman Tells Her Story" [April 4]. It is sad that the world does not look at the black Africans in the Sudan as human beings. There is genocide and enslavement of the native Africans taking place there, but nobody seems to believe or care.
First, the Arab world stood behind the government of the Sudan simply because of their Islamic faith. Now the Canadian oil company, Talisman Energy, is, as Hentoff noted in his column, helping the government to totally enslave and eradicate the native Sudanese from the oil zones.
When will the world talk? Is there nobody who will stand by the weak and the defenseless? Recently, Pope John Paul II publicly recognized the sufferings of the Palestinians and their rights to the Palestinian land. What about the long sufferings of the native African Sudanese? Who is there to help stop their eradication and to recognize their sufferings and rights to their land?
President Clinton, and Prime Minister Tony Blair, why are you quiet? You stood behind the native Albanians irrespective of their religion. Why not stand also behind the native Sudanese irrespective of their color or religion?
The African Sudanese need help. They need a voice to speak for them because they are voiceless. Please help!
Elisabeth Achan Ogwaro
Peter Noel's article "Portraits in Racial Profiling" [March 21] will hopefully send a message to everyone. However, racial profiling is not the reason the police are overly active in certain areas of the city. They concentrate in areas that have an unusually high level of drug-related activity and other crimes, and are therefore confronted by heightened tensions that can lead to accidents.
One thing is certain; without effective communication nothing will change. That is the reason for my proposal to integrate police patrol teams. My statement that "Giuliani is responsible for the killing of Amadou Diallo," resulted, as was noted in Noel's article, from the mayor's failure to implement the type of plan I proposed to end police brutality while I was Miami Beach city commissioner.
In a city as racially and ethnically diverse as New York, it is only common sense for patrol teams to have at least one member who reflects the predominant racial and ethnic makeup of the area they patrol. For example, in parts of Queens where there are large numbers of Asian residents, it could only help if one or both of the patrol team members reflect the racial, ethnic, and linguistic makeup of the neighborhood.
Better communication alone will not solve all the problems facing the police and the public they are sworn to protect, but it is a starting point. The mayor should implement my plan to integrate police patrol teams.
Principles and Convictions
Thank you for J.A. Lobbia's April 11 Towers & Tenements column about the conviction of real estate broker Steve Gluck on charges of aggravated harassment against me ["Ludlow Street Hang-Up"]. There is one overriding factor in this case: I was the victim. I had no choices when Mr. Gluck called me to harass me in the sanctity of my own home. No matter what Mr. Gluck or anyone thinks about myand others'lawful activism, personalities, or time- honored legitimate legal tactics, nobody has the right to do what he did. Every citizen has the right to advocate and complain to regulatory and enforcement agencies about adverse conditions in their community.
I'm glad that Mr. Gluck admitted his guilt, and also admitted that "a lot of things happening on the Lower East Side are the result of my office. . . . " If Mr. Gluck or anyone wants to meet me, they can make non-harassing phone calls or send me a note, as do numerous individuals and their attorneys. I am not inaccessible. People may not want to meet with other activists or with me if their motives are less than pure, as has been the case with numerous individuals who claim their establishments will result in the "betterment of the neighborhood."
These are the same types of individuals who have lied numerous times and whose operations are presented by real estate brokers as "white tablecloth restaurants" when they are actually loud DJ-driven clubs, driving residents crazy and destroying our communities.
Marcia H. Lemmon
Chair, Ludlow Block Association
Lower East Side
I must respond to the item in James Ridgeway's March 28 Mondo Washington column headlined "Dam Shame: Beyond Crying for the Colorado." Ridgeway's statements about Lake Powell and the Colorado River becoming "a toxic sewer" are incredible, especially since these comments are filled with misinformation.
Lake Powell is one of the most magnificent lakes in the world. During the last 40 years an entire ecosystem has been created because of Glen Canyon Dam. There are 1960 miles of shoreline. The Audubon Society has just finished an observation that counted more than 91 species of birds.
A recently completed environtmenal study found that the use of Lake Powell includes swimming, hiking, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and boating. More than 2.5 million people visit our area. Archaeological sites are still available for people to visit along the shores of Lake Powell and the Colorado River.
The Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam is not the same river it was 40 years ago, before the dam. It is a clear, beautiful river that has plants and invertebrates that many species of birds and fish feed upon. It is the home to native and non-native fish. Thousands of people now have the opportunity to take river trips and fish the Colorado River, which would not be possible if the natural flows before Glen Canyon Dam existed.
There is not an environmental crisis on Lake Powell or the Colorado River because of Glen Canyon Dam.
President, Friends of Lake Powell
Norah Vincent, in her recent column on Ayn Rand, displayed some puzzlement over the growing popularity of Rand's philosophy [Higher Ed, March 21].
There is no need to be puzzled. In a culture empty of ideas above the superficial, Rand offers a philosophy consistently based on reason as an absolute.
Additionally, the implication that Rand's philosophy may have been responsible for someone's death is revealing of a psychological mechanism called projection.
Benefit Concert for Mozambique
A concert to raise funds for flood victims in Mozambique will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 16, at Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street. It is sponsored by the World Music Institute and WBAI Radio.