Worthy of the internationals
P. Joseph Potocki's article ("Blowing Hot Air," July 9) is very informative and, at the same time, humorous. This is journalism of the highest quality, worthy of an international audience.
Michael R. Martinez-Walsh
I was reading the North Bay Bohemian at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol when I received a call from Florida. My youngest son, Chris, had just been Tasered, maced and arrested for resisting arrest with violence. I had just read about the rash of teen and young adult shootings by Sonoma County officers in the article, "Insane Situation" by Lois Pearlman (June 25). Well, I thought to myself, at least they didn't shoot him!
Just last month he was working in Florida as a licensed mechanic enjoying his work and being paid well. What happened?
What started out as a fun weekend with a stranger ended in a stolen wallet, a lost job and a blown engine. A bad week, a bad hangover and little sleep led to spacey behavior at the local bakery and coffee shop where the manager called the police complaining about someone (Chris) shooting a toy dart gun at one of the outdoor tables. In the meantime, the manager asked him to leave, so he walked away.
A few minutes later, an officer yelled for Chris to "Hit the ground." He ignored the officer because he thought he had not done anything wrong, and so kept walking. The officer grabbed his hands and cuffed him from behind. My son panicked and fought back, inadvertently ripping off the officer's badge. He ended up with a knee in his back, a Taser in his side and mace in the face. A three-to-one tag team match. He was charged with theft of the officer's badge as well as resisting arrest with violence, which is a felony. He had just passed a drug test and had gotten a new mechanic's job, but now needs to stay in town to defend against the felony charges.
There was no immediate danger, no reason to press the situation and no laws broken. This was at 10am. Why did a lone officer approach and force a confrontation? The manager statement reports a "plastic dart gun," yet the officer justified the attack by reporting Chris to be "armed and dangerous with a gun." If that were true, an officer would not risk running after him with cuffs only. The charges have been trumped-up after the fact to justify the provocation.
Just a couple days ago, the local daily reported that the Santa Rosa police chief had resigned, and that he was "unabashed about leading his troops into battle." When did "to protect and serve" turn into "enemy combatant"?
Luckily, my son is pretty resilient and has multiple skills to develop and fall back on. But what about those who do not or cannot? Mental illness may be a misnomer, for the heart is always involved.
Daniel Osmer, Ambassador for Youth Science
To object to the term "illegal immigrant" because people aren't illegal is pettifoggery (Letters, July 2). The meaning is clear not only from convention but because "illegal person" is as devoid of meaning as "taste of yellow."
What strikes me as really "dehumanizing" is the disregard for the individuality of personhood in the suggestion that living people are identical with their dead ancient ancestors (or even someone else's, based on superficial resemblance). Those corpses may have "been here first," but not today's immigrants.
We are responsible for our own actions, including those that break the law. Breaking the law to enter the country is not noble; it is selfish. It expresses contempt for all the chumps who act properly, and for the society that upholds standards of conduct. One might as well defend reckless driving.
Phillip A. Hessel