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OpinionLetters

Letters: Shooting in Carolina proves what?

A frame from video shot on April 4,

A frame from video shot on April 4, 2015 and provided by the attorney representing the family of Walter Lamer Scott, appears to show Scott running away from City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, right, in North Charleston, S.C. Photo Credit: AP

Your editorial shows a profound illogic, misunderstanding and emotional thinking in reaching a conclusion ["Must-see TV tells tragic story," April 9]. Newsday states, "It's also clear why policing and race is an issue the nation must confront and resolve."

Let's look at some facts. Each year, officers make about 12.2 million arrests. Blacks represent about 28 percent of those arrested. That's a lot of contact between the police and black people.

Newsday chooses to ignore the enormity of those numbers by relying on isolated instances of police action in Staten Island, Ferguson, Missouri, and a host of other communities. That kind of statistical malpractice is misleading and a disservice to the readers.

Worse, there is not a scintilla of objective evidence that supports the proposition that the South Carolina officer shot at Walter Lamar Scott because he was black. There is no indication so far in Officer Michael Slager's background that he is a racist.

One could just as easily infer that he was a poorly trained cop who would have just as quickly fired at a white person in a similar situation. The case for a national crisis has not been made -- and perhaps has been made up.

Michael J. Butler, Greenport

Editor's note: The author is a retired Nassau County police captain.
 

The editorial regarding the South Carolina killing of an unarmed African-American by a white police officer was on the money. However, considering the turmoil of the moment, the officer's presence of mind to immediately retrieve the Taser he claimed the victim took from him and place it next to the victim's mortally wounded body appeared too spontaneous. It may have been part of his training to do so. That possibility should not get overlooked in the upcoming investigation.

These Ferguson-like incidents coming in bunches, as they have, should remind all Americans that race relations is still a major problem for our country. There was evidence of improving conditions during the 50-year life of the Voting Rights Act, but they have been brought to a screeching halt by the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling in Shelby County vs. Holder that gutted that law. The court struck down a key part of the act that required some states to seek federal approval before changing their election laws or redrawing districts.

The court's ruling, in my judgment, was a giant step backward into our racially oppressive past. This is especially true given that, in the last five years, at least 22 states have enacted restrictions on voting. This makes it more difficult for minorities to vote, leading to even greater disunity.

If our elected officials in Washington don't conduct themselves responsibly and bring the dissension to an end, we may find ourselves with a number of citizens whose loyalty is uncertain.

William F. Haffey, Massapequa

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