Tuesday’s Letters to the Editor

Press Democrat readers comment on police reform, the coronavirus and more.|

Assessing police

EDITOR: What do we do know about law enforcement? Is it broken or just in need of a fix or two? We are hearing from a wide range of perspectives. We have the president, Black Lives Matter, community activists and law enforcement leaders, including their labor organizations.

One thing for sure — if we step back and assess the current wave of protests, recent tragic and indefensible killings of people of color and ill-conceived militarism by the police, we are in a new era of reimagining the police.

There is one simple measure that will clarify if any of the proposed changes to law enforcement are effective: the absence of deaths of people of color due to police action.

One critical element can help. Unfortunately, law enforcement leaders haven’t expressed any interest in this element. It is currently available and is a feedback mechanism, similar to the technology that Uber and Lyft use to assess the experience of their customers.

This tool, offered by openpolicing.org, provides real time feedback to the concerned law enforcement leadership, the officer’s supervisor and the concerned officer. Without this kind of feedback loop, law enforcement is in the dark about the level of service it provides.



Tools at hand

EDITOR: We have the medicine we need to slow the coronavirus. As we wait for a vaccine and drug therapies, we have powerful tools to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. Washing hands, social distancing and mask wearing all slow the spread of the virus.

While we normally don’t think of physical barriers and actions as preventative medicine, these are the tools we have available. These are simple, effective, affordable and accessible tools in slowing the spread of coronavirus. They don’t have side effects and have limited environmental impacts. They are being employed at a global level to slow the virus.

Economic research has shown that a national mask mandate would save 5% of the GDP. To support our economy, keep our schools open and maintain quality health care, wash hands, wear a mask and social distance.

The pandemic has had a significant, long-term economic and social impacts on all Americans. The pandemic has left millions of Americans unemployed and reduced state and local budgets, which will cause cuts in social, medical and infrastructure programs. The pandemic has closed schools, increasing the burden on working parents and compromising the education of American children.

Let’s not amplify these economic and social costs. Use the tools available today to save money, jobs and lives tomorrow.



Jack London and racism

EDITOR: Lou Leal (“Jack London’s evolution,” Letters, June 29) took issue with an article addressing the racism in Jack London’s work (“What’s in a name — and a statue,” June 21). Leal implied that London’s racism is excusable because he had an ex-slave wet nurse and a Japanese manservant, to which I ask: Are the only roles for people of color in London’s life subservient? More importantly, is the defense of Jack London really going to be “he had black friends”?

That’s not good enough. Neither is the “time period” defense when advocating that London remain a celebrated figure with public spaces named for him.

It’s time to remove the nostalgia glasses and give some real scrutiny to Jack London. While it’s true that many of his later short stories (“House of Pride”) have nonwhite protagonists fighting colonialism, he also wrote “The Mutiny of Elsinore” two years later, a novel with racial themes that was celebrated on the 100th anniversary of its publication by Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

London made me a fierce protector of animals, his socialism fits well in today’s landscape, and he was champion of underdogs. London also was a racist, and we need to be more honest about it.



Marching without masks

EDITOR: The Press Democrat published a photo of students marching for Black Lives Matter. The picture showed 11 students linked arm in arm walking down the street followed by a crowd (“Strength in numbers,” July 1). Aside from the clear lack of social distancing, only one of the 11 was wearing a proper mask. Few masks are seen in the photo.

The picture, instead of drawing attention to the rightness of Black Lives Matter, reinforces the perceived fact that the protesters and youths don’t care about the elderly or the medically frail.

It is hard to be a supporter of Black Lives Matter when its supporters care nothing for the life and health of others. Stay safe, be safe, wear the mask.



Rising death count

EDITOR: Over the past five weeks the number of COVID-19 deaths in Sonoma County has risen from four to 16. The Department of Health Services is demonstrating gross incompetence. Most of these deaths occurred in senior centers. How can this happen in our county? The health department should have so many defensive protocols protecting these senior communities that a death in a senior center should be rare instead of commonplace. Demand our Sonoma County elected representatives immediately investigate this travesty.


Monte Rio

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