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Letters for the Week of August 19, 2015

Readers sound off on the housing crisis, racial profiling on BART, and police funerals.


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This is absolutely part of a national pushback by law enforcement to paint themselves as victims. Look at what is happening in some major East Coast cities. Cops are purposely pulling back from doing their jobs in order to drive crime numbers up. They hope to illustrate that the demands by the public that they be professionals and obey the law themselves is an obstacle to police work. That is ridiculous. Whenever there is a video recording of police acting way beyond what is necessary or legal, you can bet there will be an old white (usually) police retired cop or police union representative on television trying to convince you that you did not see what you saw on the tape. Even after nearly a year of almost weekly tape evidence from all over the country that police behavior is out of control, they still don't get it!

Gary Patton, Hayward

Labor Needs to Rethink Its Ties to Police Unions

The article is correct in its main points. We need to separate the issues of the often-unnecessary dangers many workers face on the job (and why there is so little attention given to Workers Memorial day every April) from the issue of what the police do in society (mainly protect the state and political economic/racial status quo from disruption by the rest of us). This is why the UAW grad union at UC is petitioning within the labor movement to remove affiliation from police unions nationally.

Joe Berry, Berkeley

The Problem Is Worse than You State

The Washington Post's tally understates the problem. According to the Counted (The Guardian's list of those dead at the hands of police by all means, not just gunshots), this year's victim count is now 683. By the end of the year, somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 US residents will have been killed by police.

While the widespread availability of guns is a huge part of the problem, and certainly a contributory factor to the massive number of killings by American police, the legal protections afforded officers exacerbate things. Laws such as the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act make it extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute the out-of-control "cowboys with badges" marauding our streets.

John Seal, Oakland

They're Not Warriors, They're Servants

It is upsetting to see police referred to as "warriors." It feeds into and reinforces the whole militarization of the police vibe that pits police against opponents (citizens). I don't even like the "sheepdog" analogy. I prefer "public servant," since I am the public and they are my servants. If there is to be a hierarchy type of relationship, it is the servant who obeys the public.

The "warrior" concept derived from the all-volunteer military when the draft was ended. Before that we were "citizen-soldiers."

Al Sargis, Oakland

"Bullies" Is a More Accurate Term

Thanks for your column. I couldn't agree more. When I was a trucker, I constantly told people that my job was more dangerous than that of a cop every time people would defend cops by saying how dangerous their job is. But the level of danger isn't the big issue here.

People worship cops for two reasons: First, cops are, as the punk band MDC once said, the army of the rich. So rich people love cops because they know that cops protect them and their property. Second, average people who like cops do so because they're scared (the American coward syndrome that Michael Moore pointed out in one of his movies) and think that cops protect them. Because of this worship, cops are treated like kings when they die. I also find this totally outrageous, but it makes sense when one considers the worship of cops by the rich and many, if not the majority, of everyone else.

Cops are far from being warriors. Warriors fight with other warriors with substantially equal arms. Cops are armed to the teeth and have far more and far superior arms compared to those they confront. "Bullies" would be a much more accurate term for what cops do.

Regardless of the fact that cops' jobs are somewhat dangerous, they signed up for this work, are very well-armed to deal with danger, and are also very well paid for what they do (in fact, except for cops in Berkeley, who have to have at least four-year college degrees, they're overpaid).

A major problem in dealing with this situation is that politicians don't dare say anything bad about cops in public. Even progressive politicians, when talking about cops killing unarmed Black people, always feel they have to say something like "most cops are good" (which is patently untrue). In fact, California has a police officers bill of rights, giving cops more and greater rights than the rest of us! As long as the rich and large numbers of everyone else worship cops, these ridiculously large funerals will only get bigger.

Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley

"Signal Loss," Music, 8/05

Ex'pression Isn't All Bad