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RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 21, 2016
I attended the ceremony at the Capitol building on Saturday for the unveiling of the black history memorial. As hundreds of us stuck around afterward to counter the heavily armed White Lives Matter protesters, we witnessed an abysmal failure of the Austin and State Police Departments. Far from helping to diffuse the situation, the police escalated matters quickly upon their arrival and used physical force against peaceful counter-protesters. I could write a book about the ways in which this was mishandled, but here’s the biggest point I want to make: The White Lives Matter protest was NOT a peaceful protest and should not have been allowed to continue.
Let me set the scene: A group of about 15 angry white men (and two women) wearing White Lives Matter shirts and skull bandannas over their faces and armed with assault rifles stood protected behind rows of police and barricades. They paced back and forth beating their chests, bucking at counter-protesters, shouting racial slurs, and miming shooting motions at black and brown folks. Yes, that’s right; the neo-Nazis with assault weapons in hand and strapped to their backs were threatening lives and pretending to shoot counter-protesters. That is not a peaceful protest. That is assault. But rather than breaking up this small group of armed white supremacists, the police gave them a platform to hurl insults and threats for hours. When the police did use force, it was against peaceful counter-protesters and each time it emboldened the racists. Hey White Lives Matter folks, you want to talk about equal protection under the law? Imagine a group of 15 black men waving assault rifles and threatening to shoot white folks. Would that have been allowed to continue all day too? I’ll ask the Austin and State Police Departments the same question that hundreds of us asked them in unison on Saturday: Who do you protect and who do you serve?
RECEIVED Sat., Nov. 19, 2016
The election of Donald Trump has made fear and anxiety the dominant emotions for many minority groups. As Ahmadi Muslims, we combat fear with faith in God and follow the motto “Love for All, Hatred for None.” However, it will be [ingenuous] of me to claim that news of Muslim women getting harassed or fresh graffiti of swastikas and deplorable slogans did not make me a little antsy. Every day, we feared having a pig’s severed head or bacon strips or something worse thrown at our mosque. Yesterday, when members of my congregation arrived for daily prayers there was indeed something at the mosque’s door. One of our wonderful neighbors had left a card and flowers at the mosque. The card read “Although we do not share the same religion, I know we share the same values of love & respect for all. As your neighbors, we want you all to know we are here for you in any way necessary. We will stand by you and support you.”
For my community this is not just a neighborly gesture of goodwill; this is the much needed hope and resolve to heal the fractured communities and allay the fear of people who do not look like us or do not pray like us. As the note says, we all share the same values of love and respect for all. This holiday season, it is up to all of us to propagate this message of unity and make this nation whole again. #UnitedWeStand
RECEIVED Thu., Nov. 17, 2016
Lewis Black stated in this column [“Page Two: Where Do We Go From Here?
” Nov. 11] that's a country's crime rate is a fiction and the threat of illegal immigrants vastly exaggerated. He needs to pull his head out of his ass and take a look around. He seem to be ignoring the fact that the city of Chicago had a record number of homicides for a year back in August 2016. He seems to be ignoring the fact of the case that happened to around 2 weeks ago when a man murdered three people in Dallas and then drove to Austin for a murdered two more people before he was finally apprehended two by police. Turns out he was had been convicted for selling drugs and spent time in Texas prison. Oh yeah he was also in the country illegally after having been deported 5 times. Seems to me you are the one ignoring the reality of the situation.
[Louis Black responds: I'm not sure where either of our heads are. But the national crime rate overall, based on looking at any number of official sources, is at historic lows except for a few cities: Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., among them, but there are also many cities that are now much safer. There will always be brutal outrageous high-profile crimes, but when what is being talked about is overall trends as well as demographics of the perpetrators, citing a few or even a lot of examples does not dispute the overall conclusion.]