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Letters, Dec. 5

Walking while black

I read with dismay Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara’s apology for the arrest of an innocent young man. While the apology was in order, the arrest was not.

The man, walking near a store that had reported a disturbance, vaguely fit the description of the suspect — an African American male in a sweatshirt. He spent the night in jail. Only after his father called the police department the next morning did the police review the surveillance video and see that the perpetrator looked nothing like the man in jail.

“I think there was a failure to conduct some basic follow-up police work,” said O’Meara. Word!

Ashland is a white community with few people of color. This fact will never change if our police arrest any convenient person of color near a crime scene. The New Green Book already lists Ashland for a racial incident. If you‘re not familiar with TNGB, look it up.

What could have happened if this man’s father did not know somebody on the police force? What if the young man ran when the police approached him? Should Ashland feel relieved because he was merely arrested and not shot like in other cities?

Do not say, “This is not who we are.” This is exactly who we are and we need to do better.

Elizabeth Fairchild


Wrong prescription

Our fire chief says we have over 100,000 piles of dead brush left to burn. (Possibly out of control, definitely polluting and globally warming).

Many scientists agree with studies concluding just that. Prescribed burning has made invasive, flammable plants take over in newly sunny locations where mature trees were cut to pay for these projects. Less flammable native plants are killed, sending hungry wildlife into town. Lichens, mushrooms and soil organisms absorbing water instead dry to death.

Burning in moist conditions is incomplete, very smoky, and cold air automatically pushes it into the valley. Frequent year-round smoke will force many to leave, or die early.

It is expensive ($30 million to $100 million yearly for Southern Oregon).

Better to limit clearcuts and flammable, poison-sprayed sapling plantations, install water re-use systems, make urban planning, landscaping and building more fire-resistant, and fight global warming as best we can.

Margery Winter


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