Letters to the Editor 8/24/17
DARKNESS IN THE DAYTIME
I enjoyed the article “Darkness in the daytime,” by Scott Faingold, on Aug. 17, but wondered why some facts closer to home weren’t there: history.
No one alive today has ever seen a total eclipse in the state of Illinois before, as one hasn’t occurred since 1869. That eclipse was the only total eclipse in Illinois since we became a state. By the time you see this, there will have been two.
The 1869 eclipse saw totality in Springfield. As you might imagine, it was a big deal since they were in totality, and Springfieldians today will only see the sun covered 96 percent unless we travel south, which I plan to do.
I’d like to see one of your historians do a piece on the 1869 Illinois eclipse.
Associated Press reporter Sarah Rankin’s published eyewitness account gave the truth about the clash of the alt-right and left in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Aug. 12. She states that the state police lined the sides of Emancipation Park before the two groups approached each other. The police made no attempt to keep the groups separated when they began to converge. The white nationalists and counter-demonstrators threw punches, screamed, set off smoke bombs, hurled water bottles and balloons filled with paint and containers of urine, and unleashed chemical sprays. The police made no attempt to halt the fighting and combatants were separated by their own companions. Pleas for help were unheeded by the police, and it was volunteer medics that took the wounded to a makeshift tent clinic located in another nearby park. The police did nothing until the governor issued a state of emergency about 11:30 a.m. Then police with bullhorns dispersed the crowd.
This supports the reports that the mayor ordered the Charlottesville police to stand down and not make any arrests without his approval, plus the governor’s order to the Virginia State Police to stand down. It will be interesting to see the FBI report of the incident.
Tyre W. Rees
ROLE OF POLICE AND PUBLIC OFFICIALS
Charlottesville, where the worst of America met its cousin.
Many rushed to award themselves self-satisfaction for correctly observing some of our collective national embarrassment while smugly ignoring what they ought to be just as embarrassed about.
If you take a side between the demonstrators at Charlottesville, you are openly displaying a serious problem with your thinking. And, as such, you are so deeply part of the problem you cannot possibly be helpful in finding a healthy solution.
If you condemn one side, either side, between the demonstrators at Charlottesville while tacitly excusing, ignoring or worse, approving the other side, you are taking a side. Please reread the paragraph above.
Both camps deserved a right to peaceful assembly. Both camps aggressively abused their First Amendment privileges. Both sides deserve condemnation and individual prosecutions where possible.
A larger and more important question is what role police and public officials played. Can you think of any other instance where two groups bent on venting their anger at each other were permitted and herded into the same space at the same time?
Are police, the mayor and governor to blame for negligence? How was violence not going to break out and who could not foresee it? Or are they to be excused because we as a nation have become desensitized to all manner of property vandalism, assault and battery, even murder of police officers as expressions of public demonstration?
I propose that right now is a good time to reestablish laws of civil order. Angry mobs with prizefighter delusions have had their 15 rounds and accomplished nothing but trashing the arena.