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Myths about violence are excuses to justify police brutality

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, speaks at a news conference. Some candidates for mayor already have said Johnson will be out if they are elected. | Colin Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times

The mayor and others casually refer to mythological causes for violence in African-American communities. They toss off statements about the so-called lack of male parental involvement, when the Centers for Disease Control has published a study showing that African-American males have a higher degree of involvement with their children’s upbringing than do white males. In addition, as shown in a University of Maryland study, African-American children benefit from “socially supportive” involvement of their uncles.

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Another myth is the dissolution of religious values in African-American families. A joint study by the University of Michigan and Howard University found that 97 percent of the African – American male participants considered themselves “at least somewhat religious.”

Citing myths merely serves to justify brutal and illegal police practices by portraying the victims of police harassment and brutality as the problem.

The ludicrous notion of calling out the National Guard implies that everyone in our communities is a criminal. It further ignores the fact that the Guard has zero training in appropriate ways of dealing with fellow American citizens. In 1968, I was part of a protest against National Guard actions during the disruption following Martin Luther King’s assassination. I got close enough to some Kankakee farm boys to see how frightened and confused they were (even worse than Chicago police !!!). The Guard used fixed bayonets on some protesters, in addition to tear gas. Luckily, I didn’t get stabbed — just gassed.

The lack of economic opportunity and the alienation of African-American youth from school (only 57 percent of African-American males in CPS graduate from high school) are the roots of the problem and cause some black youth to abandon our community’s historic principles and pursue illegitimate activities (like European pirates and bandits of an earlier era).

The facts are readily available. It took me less than an hour to assemble them. That the mayor and police superintendent choose to ignore the facts and attempt to deflect blame from themselves is part of their established pattern. We have to hold all of our representatives and public employees’ feet to the fire, and insist they work toward real solutions to the real problems.

Muriel Balla, Hyde Park

West Loop cycling fatality: via Facebook

It’s important for drivers to look around them, but sometimes they can’t see, especially if they’re driving in large construction or semi-trailer type vehicles with blind spots. Perhaps instead of constantly harping on the drivers, tell bicyclists to be extra careful at intersections when vehicles are turning. And don’t try to pass a large construction-type vehicle on the right at an intersection — stay behind and give them a wide berth. We hear about more deaths when this doesn’t happen. I’d rather the bicyclist be safe than injured or dead. Shelley Frizelis

Cyclists fly through stop signs, weave in and out of traffic, weave from sidewalk to street, and go in and out between cars. They should abide by the same traffic laws as vehicles. Chuck Rocek

Keep them off the streets. I’ve seen so many cyclists try to out-run buses and cars. One even tried to go around a car that was in the right-of-way away and ended up slamming into the back of a CTA bus. Nikita Flowers

Some cyclists go too fast. They are more susceptible to injury than a driver of a vehicle, so they should be more cautious. Cynthia Thomas

Before making any turn, look around, verify if you’re in a blind spot then make a turn. We are always in a hurry. Take your time. Al Moreno

A small act of kindness

Many more people are helpful and kind than uncaring, so the only reason more of them do not do a simple thing that is tremendously beneficial to someone they see regularly is that they haven’t thought of it.

It takes only a few minutes to take a cold bottle of water out of the fridge and put it with some ice cubes in a small cooler under your mailbox. A sign attached to the box that says “Mail Carrier: Cold water for you,” with an arrow pointing downwards can remain there day after day. Chicago gets quite hot in the summer, and even if a postal worker starts out with cold water, it is gone or warm by the time he or she is partly through their route. Our mail carriers are quite glad to know they will find cold water at our house. And it’s so easy! We depend on our mail carriers. Let them depend on us.

Jan Gleiter, Lincoln Square