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Kyra Parker flashes the peace sign while walking backwards in a cloud of tear gas during a protest at 72nd and Dodge Streets on Friday. People were protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Peaceful protest, yes; violence, no

No matter how ugly an action may be, no matter how dark a night may seem, no matter what stale bread of injustice may be fed to us and no matter the circumstances, let us never turn to violence.

To my red and brown people and my black brothers and sisters: Let’s carry on with a community that chooses to love our enemy. Loving those who hurt us will give them no option for retaliation. To those who protested peacefully, I commend you! To the Omaha police, you all have been doing an excellent job.

John Horsechief, Omaha

Heed lessons from Floyd’s death

Once again, we are seeing the tragic and unnecessary death of a black man, George Floyd, this time at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. We have body-cam and surveillance videos confirming that he was asphyxiated by an officer’s knee and body weight on his neck, in spite of his early pleas that he could not breathe.

Not only did that officer fail to react to the victim’s respiratory distress, none of his fellow officers responded. We watched him die in front of us. The police narrative of events bears no resemblance to what is on the visual record.

While it is known that these men are innocent until proven guilty, it is mind-boggling that four officers of the law, with training in CPR, somehow disregarded CPR training’s emphasis on the critical importance of the airway. What happened to “Protect and Serve”?

And the other question, of course: Why are these events repeatedly happening, and primarily to men of color? I think we know the answer but have not been willing to face it. We live in a society still bearing the scars of racism in some individuals and institutions. This defect is continuing to take innocent lives. We do not want to believe it, but we must. When there are hidden pockets of this cancerous attitude, they are fertile fields for augmentation by equally hateful and tone-deaf leaders who fuel the fire with racist rhetoric and policies.

All lives matter and should matter equally. Please consider this when you vote in November.

Kevin Wycoff, M.D., Omaha

Violence is no solution

Two wrongs have never made a right. If people are upset about “unlawful actions taken against innocent people,” then how can the burning of small stores, setting random cars afire, looting of stores and smashing of windows not be considered “unlawful actions taken against innocent people”?

Most of the protesters interviewed on television said they were there because “we want peace.” Windows were smashed and stores looted within seconds of the interview asking for peace. What? How can a person who is so angry and frustrated with injustice, act unjustly? How does willful property destruction avenge a man’s death? Where are the influential black leaders who need to give instruction and guidance and demand an end to destruction and violence?

We need law and order for a “Peace” we so desperately need. There is no tolerance for unjust treatment to anyone, regardless who they are. Let the justice system do its job to ensure those laws are upheld. There are courts and police review boards in place for that very reason. We are in a historic national pandemic that has claimed over 100,000 lives. All our energy should be to unify and come together during this unsettling time to fight the worst enemy to ever enter the United States: COVID. We need each other!

K.C. McCaslin, Omaha

Injustice in Minneapolis

The rioting in Minnesota is the inevitable byproduct of a righteous rage, thrown off course by a relatively small number of those horrified by the murder of George Floyd and the “wait and see” approach the Minneapolis Police Department has taken with the arrest of the cold-blooded murderer and his accomplices (not to mention the systemic failures of a country which has allowed for centuries of similar instances in which justice was never seen).

Undoubtedly, in some cases, the rioters are purely opportunists. Unfortunately, it serves as a distraction that allows those who would rather focus on a symptom of injustice, instead of the injustice itself, to do so in perceived good conscience.

More importantly, though, the rioting does not diminish the injustice of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of multiple police officers, on video, in broad daylight, while onlookers beg for his life. Nor does the riot diminish the well-founded rage of the black community toward a justice system with on-the-ground enforcement that too often leads to the unjust harassment or death of people of color.

Bill Rawley, Omaha

A lack of justice

I long for the day when being black and breathing is not a capital offense.

Jean Young, Omaha

Great work by photographers

Kudos to Chris Machian and Anna Reed for their coverage of the George Floyd protests. Their up-close coverage put them in harm’s way, and they should be given credit for covering the news of Omaha, despite the dangers to themselves.

Jeff Beiermann, Omaha World-Herald photojournalist, 1994-2012

Sex offenders do enormous harm

While I agree with the premise of The World-Herald’s May 26 editorial (“Vigilante justice is wrong”), the fact of the matter is that this murder would not have taken place had the legal system made sure Mattieo Condoluci never saw another day of freedom the rest of his life in the first place.

As a survivor of child sexual assault, I have had to live with the crime that was perpetuated against me for almost 45 years now. The scum who attacked me was able to get off with barely a slap on the wrist, and it took 20 years before he attacked another defenseless human being before he wound up getting a short jail sentence and a permanent spot on the state’s sex offender registry. In essence, he’s a free man while I remain in a position where, on a daily basis, I have to fight the psychological and physical battles that came as a result of his attack on me, a fight that has resulted in depression, drug and alcohol use, several suicide attempts and a near-constant battle with my self-esteem.

I don’t condone the actions of Mr. Fairbanks, but I certainly understand why he felt the need to commit this act of violence. One of Condoluci’s victims committed suicide because of the pain Condoluci’s actions placed on his soul. He stole a young man’s youth, destroyed his self-esteem and ultimately led him to take his own life because of the pain Condoluci administered with his violent, inhuman act.

While the legal system has been taking a harder stance in dealing with perpetrators of this violent act against our children, better sentencing requirements would keep these vermin behind bars for longer periods of time. I’m serving a life sentence because of what happened to me.

It may not be right from a legal standpoint, but Mr. Fairbanks actions has brought a sense of relief to parents of young children in the neighborhood that the legal system failed to provide. I hope Mr. Fairbanks’ judge takes that into consideration before sentencing.

Michael Carnes, Wayne, Neb.

Too little compassion for this mother

No wonder our jails are overcrowded with needless punishment. I am referring to the May 22 World-Herald story, “Woman gets jail for leaving baby on porch.”

Here is a case punishing a poor, uneducated and confused person who certainly posed no threat to anyone in our community. This lady was sexually assaulted and became pregnant and self-delivered with no doctor or midwife. Alone and confused, she could have killed her child but instead dropped it off with people she hoped would find a home.

So she sat in jail — 42 days. Time for sentencing — no compassion here, but our local friendly judge gave her a 90-day sentence. However, he gave her credit for the 42 days already served.

An injustice here — she should have been released for a psychiatric evaluation and set free, having already spent a month and a half in jail, or at most another week to make a point. This is a case where the crime did not deserve the punishment. No feelings for an obviously distraught woman.

Jerry Freeman, Omaha

Merge the city and county

The May 24 opinion page shows more positioning by the Omaha World-Herald and the mayor on the status of CARES Act funds and “what the city is owed” by the county. None of this would be an issue if the city and county had merged years ago.

Let’s move forward and bring the city and county together into one entity. Layers of taxation become more transparent, and functions and services become more streamlined; we also gain a more unified vision of future industry and community development.

It’s time these governments move forward, together.

Brian Parizek, Omaha

Let them share these final moments

Recently my husband and I visited with friends nearby. Our friend shared with us about her family member. He was a resident in a nursing home admitted with Alzheimer’s and now near death due to COVID-19. Hospice had been called. His wife of 50 years was distraught as she was not able to be with him due to his quarantine. He would be dying alone.

The situation broke my heart. Imagining myself in the same situation I would have to say, “Give me a gown, a mask, goggles, gloves, a face shield, whatever it takes, but allow me to be with my husband. I want to pray with him, hold his hand, lay down beside him and tell him goodbye only as someone who has loved him for 50 years could do. It is only humane.”

Laura Vandello Shaw, Blair, Neb.

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