Peter Noel, in "Getting Away With Justifiable Murder" [July 6], advances a distorted version of the truth about the tragic shooting of a seriously disturbed man by the police in 1992. His article parrots, without any skepticism the hallmark of an objective journalist allegations made by attorneys who have done their best to win a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the city. Their theory of the case has been rejected by both the trial judge and an appellate court.
While Mr. Noel briefly alludes to the fact that a "grand jury concluded that the officers were justified in killing Black," he does not tell his readers that the grand jury, composed of 23 members of our diverse Brooklyn community, heard testimony from 17 witnesses including the deceased's family members, hospital personnel, and police officers before returning their verdict.
Noel's one-sided reporting even calls into question whether the deceased wielded a knife immediately before he was shot. There should be no dispute about that fact, since the tip of the knife that Earl Black held in front of him as he charged the police was recovered from his chest during his autopsy.
Finally, Joseph Accetta's testimony that the police shot the deceased three times while he was on the ground is directly contradicted by the forensic evidence. Consequently, the appellate court found his testimony to be against the weight of evidence.
It is bewildering that a publication with the reputation of The Village Voice continues to be a forum for Mr. Noel's irresponsible reporting.
Charles J. Hynes
Peter Noel replies: Hynes's statement that the "tip of the knife . . . was recovered from Earl Black's chest" is not only wrong but highlights one of the most bizarre aspects of this case. What was recovered was not a knife tip, but a piece of blade from the middle of a knife! How this ended up in Black's chest defies explanation. At the civil trial, a police officer assigned to guard Black's body at the morgue could only offer that he "didn't remember" if anyone had tried to place something in the body. Also, the actions of Hynes's office were among the key factors that led a civil jury to conclude that a conspiracy had existed to suppress the facts surrounding Black's death. Joseph Accetta, a critical, disinterested witness who had already given Hynes's office a sworn, taped statement, was never asked to explain what he had seen to the grand jury. Testifying at the civil trial, he denied that Black had a knife. And regarding Hynes's claim that the trial judge "rejected" the family's version of the case: the judge, Gilbert Ramirez, denied the city's requests to set aside the verdict, and then stated that "an important public interest was served" and the family's "constitutional rights [were] vindicated" by the jury's verdict.
Squawk of the Town
When I mentioned the freighted word "scandal" to Cynthia Cotts in connection with New Yorker editor David Remnick and Don Imus [Press Clips, July 13], I was referring to the fact that Mr. Remnick, a friend and guest on the Imus program, was the recipient of a $50,000 book award from Imus, yet, as Cotts reported, refused comment on Imus's racist cracks about the Knicks.
Cynthia Cotts replies: Nobile's charge that Imus effectively bought Remnick's silence by giving him a book award is provocative, but not entirely clear-cut. It has been reported that Remnick gave the Imus money to charity, which undercuts the appearance of conflict of interest. Yet, when asked for the names of the charities last week, The New Yorker declined to comment. I chose not to publish the charge because I felt it raised more questions than it answered.
Re James Ridgeway's item " 'Weyr Witch' Rides Again" [Mondo Washington, June 22]: It's sad that there are people out there who still think about Wiccans the way that [New Right founder] Paul Weyrich does!
Weyrich must be ignorant of the fact that there are those who practice other religions than Christianity. To boycott the Army because Wiccans have joined is ridiculous. Is Weyrich afraid Christians will be exposed to forms of religion other than their own? Hello! This is America. Remember? Freedom of religion, and of speech!
As a Satanist myself I found this absurd. If Pagans, Wiccans, Satanists, atheists, etc., want to serve their country, "So mote it be!!!" It seems that some people have forgotten the important amendments that make this country unique. I suppose it's freedom of religion for Christians, not for us!
Once again, the city's most vulnerable children have found a champion in Karen Houppert ["Victimizing the Victims," June 15]. How are children protected by learning that if Dad beats up Mom, they will be punished with removal to foster care? How does it ensure "child safety" to tell children, correctly, that "your body is your own" and then subject them to strip searches looking for bruises?
The city said it had to take away more and more children in order to prevent child-abuse deaths. Giuliani even declared that "if you're arguing about whether a homemaker should be needed to return children to a parent or parents, maybe what you should be arguing about is whether you return the child at all."
But, as Ms. Houppert pointed out in an earlier story, the Scoppetta/ Giuliani policies are so overwhelming the system that after Scoppetta's first full year in office child-abuse deaths actually went up, from 31 to 38, reversing years of decline. Sadly that trend has continued. The State Department of Children and Families indicated child-abuse fatalities in New York City rose to 46 in 1997 and 47 in 1998.
How much more of the city's version of "child protection" must New York's children be forced to endure?
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
That Bob Mack began his review of Pavement with the admission that he is not a longtime fan of the band certainly set the tone for an interesting piece ["Pavement Comes Alive," June 29]. Ignorance can sometimes be a blessing when reviewing a band so hyperanalyzed by its fans.
I won't take umbrage with his perception of the concert. In the end, it's a very well-written piece. However, I was surprised by the number of editorial inaccuracies.
Mr. Mack concedes that he is not familiar with Pavement's oeuvre, and is thus unable to identify the first song of the set. (It was "Here," from the Slanted and Enchanted LP.) But I'd have hoped a reviewer would have gone that extra mile to get a copy of the set list. Had someone done that, Mr. Mack's perceptive reference to Pavement's Creedence Clearwater Revival influences could have been made stronger, supported by the fact that they closed their encore on all three nights with a cover of CCR's "Sinister Purpose." Truly a lost moment there.
Mr. Mack laments the fact that the band ignored "surefire crowd pleasers" like "Range Life" and "Haircut" (actual name: "Cut Your Hair"). True enough, they were missing. But again, Mr. Mack can't be held at fault for not knowing that, in the Pavement canon, "Gold Soundz," "Box Elder," and "Summer Babe" hold rather lofty positions.
And should we let it slide that the correct name of that night's sole described fiasco was "Speak, See, Remember"? Come on. That one's right on the back of the CD. I'll refrain from a cheap shot by not dwelling on the irony in Mack's eloquent description of the heavenly "Major Leagues."
Since the Voice is a serious record of rock journalism, I would encourage Mr. Mack next time to type slowly.
Television Broadcast Magazine
Re "This School Works!" by Nat Hentoff [June 29]: Mayor Giuliani knows there are too many children being shortchanged. The principal at P.S. 110, discussed in Hentoff's column, is rare.
When will the teachers' unions, which seek to protect their interests over those of the children, understand that society has changed so much over the years that the system must make profound adjustments? Parents are more educated today about the fact that children are different. Some learn by hands-on activities, others visually. It's terribly unfair to try to fit all children into one basic format.
The whole system needs to be revamped. I went to school in Harlem, and I am no fan of Giuliani, but on this issue, the man knows what he's talking about.
Jolyn W. Walker
Nat Hentoff replies: P.S. 110 isn't the only public school that works. But I agree that both principals and teachers' unions are a key part of why many others fail. Of 72,000 teachers, only 583 received unsatisfactory evaluations last year. Of 1100 principals, only 14 got unsatisfactory ratings, according to the June 28 Daily News. There must be accountability with teeth.
As the founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, I question the imbalance in Debra DeSalvo's article "Dangerous Moves" [July 6].
There are many people who have been well served by Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and whose opinions and experiences are markedly different from those she chose to report. In our 15-year history, with up to 100,000 sessions given, I know of fewer than 10 where anyone has had any kind of unsatisfactory experience. At least one licensed psychotherapist interviewed by DeSalvo gave a glowing report of her experience of the work but was not mentioned in the article.
The recent book Beyond Talk Therapy, published by the American Psychological Association, contains a chapter on Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Dr. Daniel Wiener, the book's editor, considers it one of the groundbreaking modalities in the field of action methods. In Radical Healing, Dr. Rudolph Ballentine (a medical practitioner and well-known yogi of many years) recommends the work.
In March, at the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine conference, I gave a demonstration similar to one mentioned in DeSalvo's article. The feedback from the audience of physicians and psychotherapists was that the presentation was extremely effective, with not a single negative comment or question about the integrity of the work.
Dr. Susan Shapiro, the post- traumatic stress disorder specialist quoted in the article, will be pleased to learn that we require training for our students in the recognition of such phenomena as "transference," which unfortunately your writer didn't care enough to find out about.
Yoga means union, and includes body, mind, spirit, and emotions. I feel blessed to have been able to develop a yoga-based technology that provides a vehicle for people to experience a profound level of awareness in all of these aspects of life, using a caring and client-centered approach, and I have overwhelming evidence to support that claim.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy
Debra DeSalvo replies: I thank Lee for writing, as my intention was to encourage debate by asking, "Is yoga therapy safe for traumatized people?" not to answer the question. Another publication originally hired me to explore Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and I thought I would love it. My experience led me to the above question, however, and to sources with thought-provoking responses. The publication killed the piece, possibly because Phoenix Rising was an important advertiser. Were my article the last word on Phoenix Rising, yes, it would be unbalanced. But perhaps it balances what has been written thus far. Finally, my editor at the Voice cut the following sentence to save space: "To be certified, practitioners must complete a $2850, six-month, home-study course that includes hands-on practice supervised by a mentor."
The photograph that accompanied Robert Sietsema's July 13 Counter Culture column was not of the restaurant reviewed. The restaurant discussed in the column is Haejo, located at 46-25 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, Queens.
Two statements in Ginger Adams Otis's article, "Blame Game" (July 13), about a New Yorkarea competition created by Microsoft employees and known as "the Game," inadvertently gave the impression that Microsoft had organized the event. As was explicitly stated elsewhere in the article, the company was not involved.
Letters should be brief, and phone numbers must be included. All letters are subject to editing for clarity, legal, and space considerations. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, The Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003. Or fax to 212-475-8944 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail letters must include phone numbers.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.