We the People: All lives matter

Citizens have been marching and staging “die-ins” around NYC in protest of the decision of a grand jury not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner. The demonstrators are demanding equal treatment for citizens but ironically sport disturbing messages of hate and intolerance. We need constructive change and not just more demonstrations.

Outside the Barclays Center, protesters carried signs saying “Stop Racist Killer Cops” and others saying “Black Lives Matter.” If there has been a killing, it does not always make the perpetrator a killer and it certainly does not make the perpetrator a racist.

All lives have value, including the lives of police officers and criminals. We must work towards building unity and fostering trust in our society. More transparency and more dialogue and more investigation would help. Our leaders should push for real change for the greater good.

One demonstrator said that she had been a Freedom Rider in 1961 and felt compelled to demonstrate to help bring change but she said that she didn’t feel much progress had been made in civil rights in America since 1961. Really?

That is as unbelievable a proposition as the ones adopted by people who marginalize whatever happens to a person in police custody as deserved. Obviously, these extreme opinions are the ones that make good material for the television cameras and the news media but they do little to work constructively for sensible reform.

Many people are eager to make public displays of “help.” Members of the City Council walked out of City Hall and blocked traffic in protest instead of promoting responsible discourse and constructive action to improve the way arrests are made in New York City.

The overwhelming majority of arrests by the NYPD are made with little incident but an arrest of an individual is a violent act to take away the liberty of a person accused of a crime. It is done in the name and for the benefit of society. It will be hard to arrest anyone in the future if police officers are expected to refrain from placing their hands on an alleged perpetrator.

The attorney general is eager to be named special prosecutor in cases of police officers using deadly force and unarmed defendants. He carefully explained that the offer had to do with dealing with public perception rather than prosecutorial capability. Governor Cuomo has not made a decision on the request. Our leaders should work to change the perception that something must be unjust merely because it is tragic.


President Obama announced executive action on immigration to give relief from deportation to as many as five million undocumented immigrants in America. Mr. Obama said that as most of us know our immigration system is broken.

He promised increased resources for law enforcement to stem the flow of illegal crossings and to deport anyone who illegally crosses the border. However, he promised a prioritization of enforcement so gang members and not working mothers are deported. He announced the country must deal with the situation and let hard-working and responsible immigrants come out of the shadows and “get right with the law.”

The order would not apply to recent immigrants or future immigrants and it does not grant citizenship or the right to remain in the country. It just allows undocumented immigrants who have led good lives protection from deportation. He urged Congress to give him legislation with a more permanent solution to make the executive actions unnecessary. He promised no free pass to American citizenship, only the ability for undocumented immigrants who have acted like good citizens to remain in the country.

Mr. Obama gave comments during an interview about the “terrible mistakes” made by the  CIA while trying to obtain information from terror suspects and combatants after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A Senate report showed brutal interrogation techniques were adopted during the administration of President George W. Bush. Mr Obama said that this “violated who we are as a people.”

On the Ferguson and Staten Island incidents, he urged patience and highlighted the progress made even if more may be needed. “Each successive generation in America, what we’ve seen is improvement,” Obama said. “And I’m confident that if we are focused on it and are willing to talk about these honestly, 10 years from now, things will be better … 20 years from now, even better ….”

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