Sidewalk Beat
I truly enjoyed "Where the Sidewalk Ends" [by Jim Simmon, November 21]. It was interesting, funny, well written and to the point. To loosely paraphrase America's forefathers, let me add that "... people willing to give up a little freedom to gain a little security usually end up losing both, and don't deserve either one." To maintain our faulty democracy, we must always be watchful when the power of the government transcends reasonable boundaries and infringes on the rights of the individual.

But in the spirit of good, unbiased journalism, I feel you forgot to look objectively at all the facts. In our zeal for preserving the rights of the individual, we cannot, and must not, let our righteousness make us overlook fairness. We live under a poetic piece of legislation called a constitution, and we create laws hoping to protect the majority of the people. But that's not enough.

Until we learn to love and help one another, we'll need somebody to enforce these rules. To do this we hire men -- strong men, both physically and morally -- with guns to protect the weak and preserve the law that we created. We want them to be perfect -- to deal, day in and day out, with the human trash our society creates and then dumps, in some poor forgotten subdivision if possible, so we can drive around it.

I don't want that job, do you? Officer Donald Ray Miller does. Where does the sidewalk end for him?

Officer Miller was not in the doughnut shop having coffee with the guys. He was in the middle of a tough neighborhood, a few blocks away from two schools, making sure that the pimps and the drug dealers don't get the kids into more trouble than they already have. He was making sure that people like you and I come home to the same house we left, that we can feel safer walking our dogs or jogging along Allen Parkway.

Did it occur to you that maybe our Canadian friend walked out of "a decrepit area" with only his morale bruised because there was a police car nearby? Could he have wandered in Harlem or Watts and lived to talk about it?

You were right to tell Officer Miller: You cannot and must not let your zeal for preserving and upholding the law let you overlook the fact that people are innocent until proven guilty, that it is possible that a white Canadian tourist decided to walk from downtown to the Galleria, and it's also possible that he could get lost and wander onto West Webster Street to run into two drug dealers without intending to make a buy. Next time, give him the benefit of the doubt. A ride to Westheimer would be nice also.

Nevertheless, you forgot to tell Officer Miller that we sleep better knowing he is out there, doing the job we hire him to do, carrying a gun so we don't have to, making the inner city a place we can all be proud of and enjoy to the fullest. For this I would like to thank Officer Miller and tell him to keep up the good work.

P. Eduardo Pedrana

Revisionist Garbage?
I look forward each Thursday to a new issue of the Press, one of the high points of my week. Recently, however, I was disgusted by Brian Wallstin's revisionist, dishonest and misleading article on one of the convicted murderers of an innocent young man, Paul Broussard, whose only crime was stopping to give a group of young men directions to a bar in Montrose ["Gayland's Choice," November 14].

This piece of garbage was revisionist because, by design, it painted the tragic incident as a fight between two groups of young men just having some innocent, inebriated fun, rather than the premeditated, cowardly act of murderous violence that it was.

It was revisionist in the way Holocaust deniers are revisionists. Randle "didn't see what went on" the way the Germans who stood by and jeered didn't see the old Jewish men being beaten in front of their burning synagogue on Kristallnacht. It is revisionist to ridicule the labeling of this brutal act of group violence as a "so-called hate crime," an incident of "gay-bashing." These labels describe a pervasive pattern of cruel violence against innocent people all across our country. If a group of young white men accosted three black men, beating and stabbing them, yelling racial epithets, killing one (or more prosaic, lynching them), would Wallstin call it a "so-called hate crime," a "lynching?"

The article was dishonest because it was full of lies of omission; it left out the important facts that characterized the event in which Randle admitted his participation. This was not a fight, as was stated in the second paragraph of this excuse for journalism. Civilized human beings do not fight by attacking others with boards embedded with nails, beating, then stabbing one to death. "Dillon took the first swing." The lie of omission -- what he was swinging. "The fight was on."

No! The murder was on!
The piece described in detail the foolish pranks of a bunch of skaters at a rice tower, but left out the detailed statements by Paul's companions that night, the homophobic slurs, the fear, the shame they felt at running away and saving themselves, leaving their friend to die. Had they not run away, Randle admitted, he would have "beat the crap out of them."

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