A neighborhood ruined
I am watching my neighborhood being destroyed. The Crosby Bar which has recently opened at the corner of Forest and Claremont has now opened a biergarten.
Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from about 7:30 p.m. upwards of 3 a.m., there are people screaming, running up and down the street, acting as if it is a giant frat party. Adding alcohol to this mix is a deadly combination. The police are usually called in two to three times a night to try to get them to tone it down.
This past weekend I encountered a young man vomiting and not making much sense. I held onto him until his friend arrived to take him home.
My thought is how this would have played out in Upper Montclair.
No epidemic of cop-killing
I finished reading former police chief Thomas J. Russo’s Aug. 24 letter to the editor with a heavy heart. His argument that there is an epidemic of killing cops that should be met with a re-institution of the death penalty is framed in a way that is intentionally hard to dispute. Who is in favor of killing cops? No one in the general mainstream of civil society. Criminals kill cops. I have never read a serious defense of killing cops.
The issue that Russo does not address is that some cops kill civilians. That sits differently with me. When I hear of a police officer dying in the line of duty, I am saddened; I hurt for their family; I am grateful the officer chose to serve their community; I am angry that current gun laws gave the criminal the chance to have a deadly weapon to kill the officer; I know that the most common scenario for a police fatality is a domestic dispute; and I am frustrated that we cannot seem to develop consistently effective non-lethal means for officers to defend themselves.
When a police officer kills a civilian, I am enraged.
Philando Castile. Walter Scott. Tamir Rice. Charleena Lyles. Terence Crutcher. John Hernandez. Bettie Jones.
Ninety-four unarmed people were killed by police in 2015, 48 in 2016, and 30 in 2017 so far.
Russo refers to an epidemic, but officer fatalities remain well below their peak in the ’70s and lower than in the early 2000s. Sixty-eight officers were fatally shot, stabbed, or assaulted in 2017. That’s horrible and heartbreaking, but it isn’t evidence of an epidemic of cop killing. We should all be concerned that the number of unarmed people killed by cops is catching up to the number of cops murdered by criminals. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect our police to kill many fewer people than our criminals do.
There are use-of-force policies proven to reduce police killings. Ordering officers to meet force with superior force is not one of them. You can learn more at useofforceproject.org.
I mourn all this loss of life and in neither case do I lose sight of the humanity of the persons involved and wish them put to death. I am not a Christian, nor any religion at all, but I am convinced that state violence, whether in the form of the death penalty or extra-judicial killings of people not convicted of any crime, diminishes us all and therefore have great respect for religious leaders who continue the call to end the death penalty. I hope in my life time to see it ended across the country.
The film “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” recently played in Montclair and is a hair-raising exploration of the effects of climate change already. It begins by Al Gore taking us to the Arctic and seeing the dramatic retreat of the glaciers. “Where does all this water go?” he asks.
“To Miami Beach!” he answers and takes us there, where we see cars driving through water as their now-routine practice. When storms hit, folks must stay home, echoing the worst storm in history that assaulted Texas this week.
We see the Philippines in 2013, where a terrible storm killed hundreds and left 1.4 million people homeless as climate refugees. We see them stacking bodies.
We see people in India suffering from terrible heat, where the temperature rose to an unprecedented 128 F degrees in 2016. Syria’s political problems were preceded by terrible climate crises leaving many people refugees.
The film concentrates on installing solar energy as a major remedy to climate change, and I support this. However, there are smaller things communities and families can do.
One congressman said publicly that if the country is serious about climate change, we will prohibit all power lawn machinery. I have maintained our property for over 40 years without any power lawn machinery, and highly recommend it. I believe that leaf blowers should be illegal because they have the further disadvantage of disrupting neighborhood peace and many studies show they do not save time.
The production of beef causes much climate change, so if one can comfortably abstain, that is a great help.
Idling a vehicle for more than 30 seconds destroys the engine needlessly as well as causing climate change.
Why hasn’t Montclair put solar panels on its public buildings? It would not only thwart climate change, but save lots of tax money. Please pressure our township government to do it!