This is an open letter to all our elected representatives but most importantly Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, Congressman Bill Flores (and his successor) and state Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson.
This year, and the events of recent weeks, have verified that the lives of minorities are frequently endangered by political rhetoric, violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement. It is past time that our representatives do something about structural racism.
Let me begin by offering a disclaimer: I am immensely grateful for our local law enforcement agencies. I have worked with these agencies for years as a prosecutor and defense attorney. I know the leaders of these agencies to be good people who wear body armor every day and work unconscionable hours because of their desire to protect and serve.
Even so, the reality is the lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd could have happened anywhere. It can happen here. The only way to prevent these types of tragedies locally is to be proactive.
As constituents, we want to see legislation passed (not just proposed) that requires law enforcement statewide to have and wear body cameras that run constantly. We want legislation to dictate that no officer can begin his/her shift till it is confirmed the camera is on and functioning properly.
As constituents, we want to see legislation passed that aggravates criminal activity performed by police officers under the color of law. In Texas, assault is elevated from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony if the victim is a police officer (Texas Penal Code 22.01)(b)(1). Similarly, a person who murders a peace officer may be prosecuted for capital murder in Texas (Penal Code 19.03). We want additions to the Texas Penal Code which enable prosecutors to charge police officers who cause injury, serious bodily injury or death while abusing their authority to be charged with third degree felonies, first degree felonies and capital murder, respectively.
Citizens of Minneapolis and beyond have taken to the streets. Cities are on fire. The perpetrators of structural racism have kneeled on the necks of some of us for too long. I implore you to do something here. Now. Before our great city catches fire as well.
Robert Callahan, Waco
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Thank you, Waco police-violence protesters. Did you get the name and number of your fellow demonstrators while you were there? They might come in handy if you ever call 9-1-1 and nobody answers. Someone I hope is not there is an intelligent, caring, compassionate high schooler here in Hewitt who wants nothing more than to channel his unlimited career possibilities into being, yes, a police officer. Perhaps you’ve convinced him not to seek a low-paying, dangerous, thankless job.
If so, your efforts this weekend were truly worthwhile.
Juanita Case, Hewitt
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Whoever said history doesn’t repeat itself has just been proven wrong. In 1968 riots broke out because of the assassination of someone I considered one of the greatest men in U.S. history. He preached to us all about peace and racial equality.
Now, 52 years later, watching what’s happening on the news about the totally unnecessary death of George Floyd by law enforcement made me accept that Mr. King’s dream has yet to be realized. We now know historically that much political leadership of the day considered people of color, people of the hippie generation and gays to be un-American degenerates. A lot of hate and narrow-mindedness thrived back then. I remember the “Colored Only” signs posted on some business windows and the horrible slang terms used to refer to people of color. Those terms are still used today by some unfortunate and venomous people.
After half a century we have a president who promotes hate, racism and war. Once again we exercise our right to protest to politically deaf ears and blinders. It’s about damn time we all became members of the human race because after 50 years we should all know better by now.
Stephen Davies, Waco
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Several weeks ago, peaceful protesters gathered in Michigan for a redress of grievances. They were carrying arms. Both of these are constitutional rights. Afterward, they peacefully dispersed. No violence, no vandalism, no looting, no death. Many on the left excoriated the protesters, labeling them terrorists and demanding they be tried and punished.
Today we have racial inequality protests exploding across the nation, descending into violence, vandalism, looting and death. Strangely enough, those same voices on the left are perfectly still. The veneer of the left is being peeled back to reveal the hideous, despicable monster beneath: power, absolute power. These events are eerily similar to past events that occurred in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and communist China.
More than 150 years ago, President Lincoln erred many times during his troubled presidency. However, he honored the thousands of noble warriors who died fighting for a noble cause and preservation of the union. Mr. Lincoln, I fear that government of the people, by the people and for the people may yet perish from the earth.
Brett Solem, Lorena
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I am frustrated with white people who only express outrage over the looting and damage during these protests. By the way, I am white.
A black man needlessly lost his life at the hands of a racist cop. Where is your outrage over this? Why are you only concerned about police officers? Don’t get me wrong, most police officers do a great service. The looting and damage is horrible and undermines the broader, humanitarian message of peaceful protests. But again, when all you can do is focus on those things and not be outraged at the loss of black lives to racist cops, then you are a part of the problem, not the solution. Black Lives Matter.
John Vickrey, Norman, Okla.