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Views in brief

November 30, 2007 | Page 4

VIEWS BELOW:
Cracking down on Tacoma protests
Congress ignores genocide
The racism of immigration laws
When the right likes free speech

Cracking down on Tacoma protests

I RECENTLY witnessed how cops will go to any length in order to break up a peaceful protest.

Tacoma, Wash., has the largest Homeland Security Detention Center in the Northwest, currently holding around 1,000 victims of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. Recently, about 300 detainees came down ill from food they were served at the center.

On November 10, I joined about 30 other demonstrators in downtown Tacoma to protest the detention center and the ICE raids that fill it. After an initial rally, we started marching to the center. Tom McCarthy, one of the demonstrators, was leading chants with a bullhorn.

I was walking right next to Tom, discussing the next chant to use, when all of a sudden two cops grabbed each of Tom's arms and handcuffed him with plastic straps. I tried to take the bullhorn, but a cop grabbed it back. At the same time, the march was surrounded by other cops using motorcycles, cars and bikes.

The surrounding cops held us with nightsticks while they summoned a paddy wagon and hauled Tom away in it. When I complained, a cop just told me, "He broke the law."

At about the same time this was happening, 30 miles down the road in Olympia, cops were pepper-spraying other protesters who were trying to stop military equipment from being shipped through the Olympia port.

It seems evident that cops will use any pretext to break up a protest they don't like. We have to oppose them by building protests that are even larger and louder.
Brian Huseby, Tumwater, Wash.

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Congress ignores genocide

IT IS a shame that congressional Democrats backed out of voting on a resolution condemning the genocidal slaughter of well over a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the early 1900s. Many people (and 20 countries) consider those past actions to be genocide. The Turkish government, which has done terrible things to the Kurds as well, doesn't.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the man known as "Chemical Ali" is about to be executed. He was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity because of his participation in the deaths of around 100,000 Kurds.

I guess genocide is in the eyes of the beholder.
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.

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The racism of immigration laws

YOU COULDN'T have been more right in the article "Who benefits from immigration bans?" (March 31, 2006).

The United States has a history of pulling in immigrants when it needs them and then kicking them out when it doesn't. We did it with the Chinese as railroad labor, and then attempted to get rid of them with the Chinese Exclusion Acts. We did it with the Japanese and many other groups.

Now we are doing it to the Hispanic population. Regardless as to how Hispanic immigrants have arrived, they have become a part of American society. They have worked, paid taxes and otherwise played by the rules; therefore, they shouldn't be denied the same opportunities that the Europeans took advantage of so long ago.

We have to keep in mind that these are people with families, jobs and something to contribute to American society. They are not dogs that we have to keep locked up behind a wall, but are like every other human being who is desperate to get out of poverty. They are not asking for a handout, but merely any opportunity for a better life for their family.

It's also important to distinguish between illegal immigration, border security and the fight on terrorism. Securing the national border would include securing every point of entry: our shores, seaports, land ports, airports and the Northern and Southern borders. Securing the Southern border is not securing our national border--it's stopping Mexicans from coming across.

Safeguarding American soil has nothing to do with stopping Mexicans from entering the country. Mexicans did not attack the World Trade Center, nor did they bomb the transit systems in Spain or London. There are no incidents of Mexicans engaging in terrorism in the U.S. The issue is that Americans do not want to see Mexicans in this country. It's a racially divisive issue.

I have a problem with the way the legal and undocumented immigrants are treated in this country. Legal immigrants are treated as if they were undocumented, and the undocumented are treated as dogs, sometimes locked in deportations facilities for months, and sometimes years.

Americans should do their research on the contributions that immigrants bring to America before they take action to discriminate, oppress, and/or deport immigrants. Thanks for that article. It's nice to know someone has their head on straight.
Trisha Garcia, from the Internet

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When the right likes free speech

I AM not the least bit shocked at the indifference displayed by the government toward the Jena 6. There is a long legacy of reluctance to confront racism head-on through the enforcement of consequences, namely hate crimes laws.

In R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul, Minnesota (1992) the Court ruled that St. Paul's hate crimes ordinance was too narrow and essentially upheld the right of free expression of a racist to burn a cross in the fenced yard of an African American family. Justice Scalia argued that the ordinance seemed to only be concerned about bias expressed toward "race, color, creed, religion or gender" being "unfair" and "selective" toward other possible forms of bias.

Well duh! What other major forms of hate crimes are there that the ordinance could possibly miss?! We all know that bigots typically use symbols to deliberately intimidate minority communities--that's the whole point--and that the symbols usually relate to one of the categories mentioned above.

Yet we create a fighting words exception in 1942 for a man who yelled at the police "goddamned fascist" in the Chaplinsky case. In that case, we don't extend free speech to someone who challenges authority. Them's fighting words!

However, in 1969, the Court ruled that a Klan leader could not be sanctioned for calling for violence to be used against Blacks and Jews, unless he showed "imminent lawless action."

I just find it interesting that right wingers are suddenly enamored of the First Amendment when it comes to protecting the right to aim racist or sexist or homophobic slurs at minority populations, but want to invoke "fighting words" when antiwar protesters make statements or when citizens challenge the sanctity of the police. So Jena doesn't shock me one bit.
Faith Agostinone-Wilson, Aurora, Ill.

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