Insulted by letter
To the editor:
There was a commentary by Chris Morris in the July 1 edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. In it he stated that the North Country is a dangerous place for people of color and wrote of “the very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police.”
These are serious accusations that I feel are based more on emotional rhetoric than they are on facts. To boldly imply that the residents of this region pose a daily threat to the safety of people of color is baseless and grossly unfair to the thousands of North Country residents who are some of the most community-minded, caring and helpful people you will find anywhere. It is an insult.
Not stopping there, Mr. Morris then pointed a finger at our dedicated law enforcement officers and indicated that they are opportunistic murderers. How dare he. What happened to George Floyd was despicable and abhorrent. It was the act of an individual with no apparent regard for a human life, and he will face justice for that act. That graphic image has been seen by us so many times that it is hard NOT to see it now when discussing police. But that cruel act was an extremely rare aberration directly counter to the oath taken by those who have chosen to be our protectors, and every year hundreds of police officers lose their lives upholding that oath. Police everywhere condemn what happened in Minneapolis.
Facts, not emotion, need to guide us when dealing with important issues. Labeling people — which I think would itself be in conflict with the tenets of those who profess fairness — doesn’t help. There are over 350 million police/civilian interactions per year in the USA. In 2019, 10 of those resulted in an unarmed person of color being killed — but an unarmed white person was killed at almost twice that number. These are all sad figures, but most of these incidents involved an officer’s response to the person physically resisting arrest or even assaulting the officer.
That’s not saying these were all justified, I’m just adding some context. Police do make mistakes. So do doctors. But what is true is that hardly any of these incidents were racially motivated. Numerous studies and research conducted by those such as Harvard Professor Roland Fryer (who devoted 3,000 hours to studying over 1,000 shootings); Injury Prevention magazine — the journal for SAVIR (Society of the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research); the National Academy of Sciences; the American Political Science Review; and Michigan and Arizona State Universities all show that race was not a determining factor for the police officer.
A Black journalist for the Washington Post twice reviewed the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and concurred with the police account that it was a justifiable use of force. Yet the false narrative of “Hands Up” regarding Ferguson remains. Demographics do play a sizable role and many of these shootings have occurred in high-crime areas which also see dozens of young men per week shot by their peers. Increased police presence in these areas effectively reduces the number of shootings which in turn saves lives. But some people have been told that the police are the threat. So when the police are instructed to patrol certain areas less, homicides go up.
Getting back to the Adirondacks, can Mr. Morris provide a list of the incidents where Black people (or any people) have been wantonly killed by police in this region which has created this “very real possibility of being murdered at the hands of the police?” This specious labeling of police spreads unwarranted fear and distrust. Does making such banal accusations benefit anyone? Does furthering a false stereotype enhance understanding? We would all agree that each person should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Yet it is okay to judge one by the color of his or her clothes?
The truth is this: All of us, of all colors, are infinitely safer WITH the police than without the police.