Letters to the Editor

01/04 What you’re saying: Chris Dragga, Stewart Epstein, and DeWarren K. Langley

Protests are part of our culture

Regarding the story “Durham County proposes 48 hours notice for protests on county property” (Jan 2):

I’m very disappointed to see Durham County considering these kind of regulations. Durham has a vibrant political culture, one in which peaceful protest plays a major part. The proposed rules would hamstring this.

By requiring any demonstration that “has the potential of 50 or more individuals” to register 48 hours in advance, they essentially make spontaneous protest impossible. While these kinds of protests can be chaotic, they’ve always provided a safe means for the people of Durham to protest outrages or demonstrate solidarity. By making them effectively illegal, these rules pit the people against the police, making tense situations that much more likely to escalate into violence. The Wisconsin GOP pursued similar tactics to disband the anti-union-busting protesters in 2011.

The real motivation for these rules can likely be found with their source. Sheriff Mike Andrews claims to hope “never to see again such reckless disregard for human life” as occurred during the nonviolent anti-Klan demonstration at the end of August. Despite this, he has shown remarkably little regard for human life on his own turf: six people have died in the Durham County jail since 2013 and those who survive are subject to miserable conditions and inadequate medical care. Perhaps, rather than pursuing the symptom of peaceful protest, Durham County should instead target the cause: Sheriff Andrews and the jail.

Chris Dragga


Opportunity is the key

Regarding the story “233 people were shot in Durham this year. When violence ‘hits home’” (Dec. 27):

We must make academic and professional development investments a top priority to help people connect their lives with the possibilities of the opportunities relocating and being created here in Durham. Only when people have a stake in their community do they stop unconsciously destroying it. Access to resources and opportunity are key!

DeWarren K. Langley

via Facebook

Humane and just

My boyhood hero Robert Kennedy used to say that “Jobs are better than welfare.” As a liberal/progressive Democrat, I agree. But I would add that having a job that pays a good and living wage that is well above the federal government’s “official poverty line” is the human right of every American who is willing to lead a responsible and productive life.

Therefore, I am proposing that following the November 2018 elections, our president and Congress reverse the 2017 tax cuts and instead spend $1 trillion on a federal government jobs-creation bill that guarantees a job with dignity and respect to all Americans that not only pays well above the official poverty line, but which also pays well above the “near-poverty line” (which is 100 percent to 125 percent of the official poverty line).

It is the “humane” and “just” thing to do.

Stewart Epstein

Rochester, New York

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