The amount of shots necessary to kill an unarmed black man has increased over the past six years. Once again we find ourselves looking for answers to question the events that led up to that execution Saturday morning.
The use of excessive force.
A pattern of reckless and dangerous policing plagues our communities. A lack of respect for life and rights of young black and Latino men cause police to behave in an unprofessional manner. Too many families have gone down the path that we find ourselves traveling today, where the lives of loved ones are snatched away amidst controversy and conflicting stories.
No matter what the circumstances, some facts remain the same. That being a young man dead and the events leading up to his death unclear. For too long we have quietly stood by and watched police terrorize our communities, stopping and arresting young black and Latino men for no other reason then how they look or where they come from.
We march for justice, burn candles at the murder site so onlookers and passersby will stop and maybe for a moment pay homage to a life that was taken by heartless, trigger happy police.
I'm tired of seeing my brothers lynched not by a rope but by 9 mm automatics.
There's a storm brewing. Our cops are full and overflowing and something must be done to stem the tide of the police brutality and out of control violence. I'm afraid without justice there can be no peace.
At PS 114
I am very disappointed that my Chorus Teacher is gone. The PS 114 Chorus as I know it has been "sus-pended." I am sad and very upset with my principal, Steven P. Grill. He took sides with a parent and didn't even think to consider to ask the teacher any facts. I want those people to know they have killed me inside and hurt my teacher everywhere and that's not fair!
This teacher is a wonderful person. I've known her since I was about 5-years-old. She is a terrific, warm teacher and person. Her sons have never hurt me or scared me. And we can all make mistakes. No one is per-fect, but good people learn from mis-takes.
Now that my teacher is not the cho-rus teacher I am quitting the new chorus. My Mondays will be free but empty. I am not happy to quit the chorus but more unhappy that she will not be there to teach me. I will never forget my chorus memories. I have pictures and leftover songs. The Chorus Teacher started the 114 Cho-rus; it lived because of her and will die without her. Thank you PS 114 kids that also quit the chorus. Thank you for not being disrespectful to this amazing person and the real chorus.
I hope the selfish parents are happy with themselves because they made many others miserable.
AN UNHAPPY GIRL IN PS 114
Set The Record Straight
I am writing to set the record straight. For over a decade the Rockaways has been constantly dumped on and forgotten when it comes to our most beautiful natural resource, our beaches.
When the late Walter Ward was our City Councilman before 1993, he was Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee. He loved, ate, slept and thought about the Rockaways as I do.
In 2003 I challenged Parks Commissioner Benepe over the lack of lifeguards and the selective enforcement of antiquated laws and rules on Rockaway beaches. Over 3,500 people joined us at a protest rally. In 2004 750 people joined us for a second rally and protest. We led a petition drive that collected thousands of signatures. Councilman Addabbo and the Parks Department said that the complaints would be considered only if they were individual letters, not petitions.
During this time Councilman Addabbo, who was Chair of the Parks Committee, did not resolve these problems. In 2004, we held a meeting with Councilman Addabbo in his office. Brian Magoolaghan, Associate Editor of The Wave, Norman Silverman, a community activist, and several members of the Councilman's staff were present. At the end of the meeting we thought we had an agreement from the Councilman that a pilot program for keeping lifeguards on duty would be instituted later that summer or at the beginning of the 2005 season. During the 2006 summer season, lifeguards continued to go off duty at 6 p.m. regardless of the temperature or how many people were in the water.
When Councilwoman Helen Foster was selected to replace Joe Addabbo as Parks Committee chair, I sent her a letter of congratulations and asked her to speak at our Democratic club. We made several attempts to invite her, with no response.
On Tuesday November 28, the ad hoc lifeguard training committee of Community Board 14 held a meeting with Council Members Foster and Addabbo. After members of the ad hoc committee described the unfair lifeguard testing methods used by the Parks Department, I asked for lifeguard hours to be extended to 8 p.m. and rules that apply only to Rockaway beaches be eliminated.
I suggested that the training and testing of college students be done during their winter break and that training of high school students be available at our local high school pools throughout the school year. We also urged the hiring of experienced lifeguards on a part time basis. We urged that Parks Committee hearings be held in Rockaway as well as City Hall to make it convenient for our constituents to testify.
I prefaced my speech by saying that Rockaway is at the end of the A line. A trip from the Bronx during off peak hours could take close to three hours. I thanked Councilwoman Foster for being a leader with courage because most people don't give a damn about the Rockaways. I made an inappropriate comment about "having balls" that should have been directed to Council Member Addabbo, who straddles the fence and who never called a committee meeting to discuss the issue.
Councilwoman Foster responded that she was able to go where she wants. She also referred to the unjust shooting of an unarmed person in Jamaica. I question why she referred to that issue. Rockaway is a diverse community with many ethnic groups. I take the Rockaway community as my family. I apologize profusely for any comment she took the wrong way. At the same time I take offense to her choice of words that are uncalled for.
We must put down our swords and work in unity to make sure that lifeguards and potential lifeguards receive fair and equitable treatment with real standards for testing. We must not allow Peter Stein, a union official, to control the whole testing process.
We will not succumb to intimidation. In 1994, Public Advocate Mark Green issued a report detailing the failures of the lifeguard testing program. It is time for the Department of Investigation to open a full investigation of this unfair system.
I thank you for giving me the opportunity and time to answer these ridiculous allegations. This letter should appear in the December 8 edition in order to put this misunderstanding to bed and continue the pertinent conversation about our beaches.
LEW M. SIMON
A Bully In Police Clothing?
Here is a message to the wise parents of America. Beware; your child is being preyed upon by NYPD Blue. Children are being singled out for thug or gangster. Men of color are stopped and searched by what we call our city protectors, "police officers of the law." State officials are sworn before God and given an oath to serve and protect us. I sometimes wonder if they understand what they are being asked of.
However, in all fairness, we have a lot of great police among us. But like everything else, it seems like the bad outweigh the good.
I believe this is their way of getting those back who once bullied them when they were young men and women.
I live within the 100 and 101 Precincts where young men are pulled over, searched and let go. They're being told they were stopped because they fit a description. I'm a 37-year-old black man who owns my own house and my own business. I as well was approached by NYC's Finest. When I was doing work at my house, upon coming out of my backyard, I was stopped and asked for ID.
On February15 or 16 of 2006, I heard a story about these young black men who were thrown to the ground by undercover cops, handcuffed and beaten at Bayswater Park. Now what they had done to deserve this kind of treatment still remains unknown.
Now I ask the real question: who is the "gangster," the "thug." Are they the bullies wearing police clothing?
See, some may think I have a problem with an authority figure. In all actuality, I'm afraid. Because one day this can by my child, and one day it can be your child. Parents of America, we share a great responsibility to our future children, born and unborn.
There is work to be done. Let's begin by showing them love, and how to love others without hate. Teach them how to speak their mind without using profanity. They must learn from home how to dress, not to fit the description. To walk knowing that God's gift to them is life, and what gift will they return to God?
We as people of color must not let the dream of so many Civil Rights leaders, who died crying out racism, be stopped and perish away. A continued struggled for our rights as colored people must move on.
Together, Fight Gun Violence
This past week-end "gun violence" reared its ugly head once again on the streets of New York claiming the life of yet another human being. Though I will not attempt to pass judgment one way or the other, a cruel and brutal act was committed. Regardless of who pulls the trigger, gun violence is gun violence. Be it a cop, a criminal or one who uses the gun for self defense, it is still a violent and sometimes-deadly act committed by and against human beings. We must stop and think of alternatives (and there are many) before pulling the trigger.
Sadly, in our society today, misunderstandings and miscommunication has resulted in the injury and often death of so many innocent people. Too many people are guided by fear and a perceived threat of harm, and they react. There are times however, when one over-reacts and afterwards regret what they have done, but then it's too late. Words can be retracted, but a life taken - is gone forever.
Gun violence does not discriminate. It strikes purposefully and randomly, in inner cities and rural towns. In short, gun violence operates throughout the community. Families, elected officials, businesses, faith communities, civic organizations, merchants, educators, and health and social service agencies must unite to successfully prevent gun violence and the other ills that are taking its toll on the community. Take a look at what has happened during the past decade, and it should be obvious that we must work together to rid our communities of the evil within. How many more wake-up call do we need? It does take a community to raise a child, and it is definitely going to take a community to stop gun violence, drug addiction and gang activity. Drugs and gangs equal violence!
If everyone (all of the above) comes together in their respective community, we can secure the necessary resources to implement strategies that produce desired outcomes. Community involvement in crime prevention is critical to our success and sustainability. Together we can, and together we will!
MOTHERS AGAINS GUNS, INC.
No More Housing Developments
I attended the hearing on the future of the Neponsit Nursing Home buildings. A statement was read by a representative of State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer. In this statement, Pheffer stated she supported the Neponsit property owners and the greedy developers' plans to build luxury homes for the ultra-rich. I thought, Audrey, that you were elected to represent all of Rockaway- not just the Neponsit homeowners and the greedy developers.
The buildings in question were built for children with the purpose of helping them recover from tuberculosis, by men such as Jacob Riis, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Jacob Schiff.
I said at the meeting that these buildings should be used to benefit children, and many other speakers agreed. This property would be perfect for this. Just think of children going to school in this historic building that was originally built for children.
Another great idea was put forth by Kevin Boyle- use the buildings as a rehabilitation center for our Iraq veterans who lost limbs. With proximity to the beach, it would be perfect for this.
Audrey, as our elected official, and since you will be involved in any deed change as the State Legislature must approve this, do what is right for all the residents of Rockaway. Do not give this property to the greedy developers. We have enough new housing developments here. These are alternatives for the use of this land.
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If you didn't see your letter this week, don't despair. The volume of letters we receive each week dictates that some be held over for the following week.