ISSUE | GUN VIOLENCE
Jumping to conclusions is dangerous
As someone who ran facilities that served individuals with disabilities, I found that the video of the police shooting of an unarmed African American behavior therapist in North Miami hit very close to home. That could have been any man or woman on my staff, any of my friends or colleagues when I was executive director of Beechwood Rehabilitation Services in Langhorne.
A neuropsychologist came closest to making sense of this type of horror. The brain is a predictive organ, she wrote. In hair-trigger moments, people see what they expect to see, not what they are actually seeing.
So bystanders saw a big black man with a white man holding a gun, which is what a caller told police. What they actually were seeing was a care worker laying on the ground with his arms raised, trying to help a white autistic man who was holding a toy truck.
Because of the caller’s report, police arrived with guns drawn. “As long as I’ve got my hands up, they’re not going to shoot me,” Charles Kinsey told WSVN-TV from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. “Wow, was I wrong.”
Thomas Felicetti, Ardmore, firstname.lastname@example.org
POWER seeks to bridge racial divide
I agree with the editorial “An answer to violence” (Tuesday) – where are the denominational leaders of Philadelphia’s faith communities in response to the moral tragedy of racial injustice in our city and beyond?
As a Protestant minister at the United Church of Christ in Philadelphia, I am active with an interfaith-based movement called POWER, which stands for Philadelphians Organized to Witness and Rebuild. It comprises more than 45 faith-based communities in our city and is affiliated with POWER Metro in Delaware and Montgomery Counties. Our goal is to transcend the economic, historical, and often fear-induced issues that have kept our neighborhoods and city divided.
POWER recently joined Opportunities Industrialization Center of America, UNITE HERE Philly, and American Federation of Teachers Local 2026 to sponsor a summit, “Black Work Matters: Race, Poverty, and the Future of Work in Philadelphia.”
We have been integral to the struggles of those for whom the cry “Black Lives Matter” isn’t about inducing racial divide but is about equal opportunity for all of us.
Rev. Frank Pennington, Wayne, email@example.com
Police must own their racism
Former Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey cited poverty, poor schools, and dysfunctional families as drivers of the high murder rate in the black community (“Ramsey is retired but still speaking out,” July 17). He failed to acknowledge that institutionally racist police departments are another driver.
The black, Harvard-trained trauma surgeon who frantically worked to save the lives of the policemen shot in Dallas said that he had been stopped various times by the police and once spread-eagled on the hood of a police car. He said he had been frightened that each of the encounters might end in his death. That is one dramatic example of the police harassment and mistreatment experienced by much of the black community.
Black teens and young men do not shoot other blacks because of a basketball argument. They kill out of misplaced anger, frustration, and a sense of disrespect and marginalization. Police departments must face their institutional role in creating the anger, frustration, and marginalization at the root of the problem.
Paul Mack, Philadelphia
Constitutional rights, within reason
Signe’s Wilkinson’s cartoon about “open carry” (Tuesday) addressed our condition as a nation and underscored the need for public discourse and commonsense solutions to gun violence across America. While I am sympathetic to Second Amendment rights, I also see the need for limitations on those rights for public safety. Perhaps “well-regulated militia” should be given more emphasis in the interpretation.
Stephen Loughin, Bala Cynwyd