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Letters to the editor

August 31, 2001 | Page 4

They want to poison my neighborhood
"The NYPD will go far to protect its own"
Racist cops in R.I. take another life

Fighting executions in Alameda County

Dear Socialist Worker,

Last month, I went to a Democratic Club meeting in Oakland, Calif., where they considered a plank calling for a county moratorium on the death penalty. Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff--who has absolute discretion in asking for the death penalty--was invited to explain his use of capital punishment.

He was appalling. He said that Blacks commit more violent crimes, which is why they're sent to death row out of proportion to whites. What a load of racist garbage!

Orloff actually laughed when asked if he could remember anyone who mounted a privately funded defense against a capital murder charge. He patiently explained that no one he's gone after had the money to hire experienced lawyers.

Orloff is also wrong to justify his pro-death penalty stance by claiming that this is what juries want--since state law automatically excludes death penalty opponents from serving on juries in capital murder cases.

But we've taken a step forward. Orloff only had to explain himself after a series of pickets and petitionings sponsored by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty to make Alameda County a "death penalty-free zone."

Cameron Sturdevant, San Leandro, Calif.

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They want to poison my neighborhood

Dear Socialist Worker,

Calpine Corp. and Bechtel Group are teaming up to put a dirty, hazardous power plant in my community! The city government has rolled over for the power generators, striking a deal to poison us while the city gets power at a discounted rate.

We've also been abandoned by the state of California. At an ostensibly public hearing August 7, Calpine-Bechtel was represented by six people on the panel and another half-dozen hacks in the audience. We, the people, were represented by the "independent" staff of the California Energy Commission.

Guess how many representatives "we" had on the panel? One.

The bus tour of the proposed site was a sham--the tour guides were Calpine-Bechtel employees. The most serious part is that this 12-story facility is in a low-income, minority neighborhood.

Calpine-Bechtel misled the audience by showing a cropped aerial shot of the proposed site. They labeled three businesses as industrial sites, neglecting to point out the nonindustrial businesses--and the residential area was left just outside the picture.

I don't want the children of my community to develop asthma or the elders to have difficulty breathing. We need solar power, biomass and other forms of renewable, nonpolluting energy!

I encourage everyone in California to support the public power campaign to kick corporations out of the power business.

John Green, Hayward, Calif.

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"The NYPD will go far to protect its own"

Dear Socialist Worker,

An SUV rear-ended me July 18. The driver was going too fast, and when he hit me, his car went airborne, landing in front of my car. The SUV started rolling across three lanes, jumped a barrier and went into oncoming traffic.

My passenger and I were rushed to the hospital, where I was arrested for driving with a suspended license. I was then dragged off the hospital bed to jail.

I was given a police report with incomplete witness statements, wrong information and addresses. I asked if the other driver was tested for drunk driving but was denied that information.

After being imprisoned for 24 hours, I was released by the judge with all charges dropped.

My license was never suspended, nor has it ever been. This leads me to believe the driver of the SUV was somehow connected to the New York Police Department.

Just look at the recent case of Joseph Gray, an NYPD officer who hit three members of the Herrera family while driving drunk on his way to work. Joseph Gray was released without bail, which outraged the city, including Mayor Giuliani himself. Another judge later set bail at $250,000.

But this goes to show the extent to which authorities will go to protect their police machine. And it shows that we need a stronger separate agency to police our police.

Barry Francis, New York City

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Racist cops in R.I. take another life

Dear Socialist Worker,

A Rhode Island state trooper shot and killed a 23-year-old Latino man July 26 when the car he was in was stopped in Providence for a traffic violation. Alfredo Torres was one of four people in the car.

Police claim state trooper John Allen shot Torres because he refused to show his hands and instead bent down as if reaching for a gun. No gun was found in the car. The driver of the car says that everyone had their hands up, including Torres.

Torres has a record of "street-level" drug dealing. In fact, Torres was acquainted with Aldrin Diaz, who is currently unjustly incarcerated as a scapegoat for the police killing of Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., a Black cop.

Diaz says that Torres was the nicest person he knew in prison. "Everybody liked him," Diaz says. "He didn't deserve to get shot."

Now, a grand jury investigation into the shooting is pending--and people are watching. Cliff Monteiro, president of the Providence NAACP, told reporters that the grand jury should consider whether race played a part in the shooting and even in the stop itself.

It's been just a year and a half since police killed Young, who was off duty at the time. And there have been many other incidents of police brutality that have angered people across the state.

This shooting has driven racial tensions in Rhode Island even higher.

John Osmand, Providence, R.I.

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