Letters for Sunday, June 14, 2020

Fund mental-health professionals, not police

Now that our island has woken up to bad police behavior on the mainland, let me remind you of the incident that happened a few years ago in a quiet Waimea neighborhood.

A mentally-ill man, known well to the community and to the police, was having a nervous breakdown. He was waving a machete, so the police did what police are trained to do. They shot and killed him.

I won’t call it a police murder. I won’t call it part of the worldwide bully-culture of police departments. I will just call it a horribly-inappropriate event that took another human being’s life at the hands of our taxpayer-funded police.

Instead of funding a police SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team or a “green-harvest” helicopter, let’s fund some mental-health professionals. Let’s turn that empty drug-rehab building in Hanapepe to a counseling center. (Remember that center was Councilman Arthur Brun’s campaign issue. He knew he had a problem and probably wanted to help the island and clear his own mental-health issues). Police departments and jails should be a small part of crime prevention. It is time for change.

Gordon LaBedz, Kekaha

Gig workers are helpless

I have called 1,200 times. I’ve sent emails to UI and PUA. I’ve sent a fax. I’ve sent emails to the Kaua‘i mayor and the Hawai‘i governor. I’ve gone to the unemployment office in Lihu‘e, only to be turned away by U.S. Army soldiers.

I am a gig worker, and we are in an impossible situation. We were told we need to apply for Unemployment Insurance, be denied by them, then file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the CARES Act. I have been waiting for 11 weeks just to be denied, and am still waiting.

People on Kaua‘i and elsewhere are really suffering and scared. I don’t think I’m the only one with difficulty sleeping, headaches, stomach upset and constant anxiety.

We have done everything our government has asked. Why are they abandoning us? Who can live on $1,200 for months?

Leslie Vonbrimer, Lawa‘i

KPD’s Breyer did compliance check with aloha

Kaua‘i Police Department Sgt. K. Breyer is to be commended for exhibiting all the positive qualities which our law-enforcement officers can demonstrate.

He paid me a brief visit at my home in Wailua Homesteads on Tuesday, June 9. I have been on two-week quarantine since arriving on Kaua‘i on June 5.

Breyer wore a mask, but I could tell from his crinkly eyes that he smiled a lot. He stayed outside on the other side of my front screen door, was friendly, and reassured when I told him my extraordinarily kind neighbors were grocery shopping and looking out for me, from a safe distance.

We talked about his background, being from Minnesota where George Floyd died, and how one of his goals is to work on police reform.

I commended him and the entire Kaua‘i Police Department for their inclusive and compassionate commitment to our island community.

I invited him and all of KPD to attend our weekly St. Catherine interfaith healing prayers when that aspect of our church ministries resumes.

Police Chief Todd Raybuck agreed with my assessment, and his leadership is also to be commended.

Terri Mansfield, Kapa‘a

  1. ruthann jones June 14, 2020 4:56 am Reply

    ‘bad police behavior ‘on the mainland’???? Gordon, wake up, there is bad police behavior right here in river city!!!!!

  2. Doug June 14, 2020 10:05 am Reply

    Well Gordon I hope you have lots of backup mental health workers lined up, because when you put unarmed mental health workers up against a machete the machete will always win and you will have empty mental health positions to fill.

  3. manawai June 14, 2020 10:10 am Reply

    Gordon, the problem is that so many if the mental homeless choose not to accept treatment, choose not to take medication that could help their issues, and choose not to live in homeless housing with its necessary rules. In today’s culture, they are free to live as they choose as long as they’re not material threat to themselves or others. So the typical answer, your answer, is merely wishful thinking with no grounding in reality. In your Waimea example, this person, as so many of our homeless do now, would probably not have chosen to accept your idea of help and our laws and our liberties, do not force them to take treatment and medication or homeless housing. To force that upon people is akin to what occurred before, during and after WW2 in Europe. Think Germany or Russia for examples of forced “treatments” by the government. Remember, Gordon, that crazy people don’t think logically and we protect their constitutional rights to do so. It’s not a matter of having enough health professionals to treat them, it a matter of them accepting the existing available treatment over a sustained period of time.

    PS – Sorry if the Green Harvest helicopters are eradicating your medication.

  4. RG DeSoto June 14, 2020 4:36 pm Reply

    Sorry for the trouble you’re having. All I can say is NEVER trust government…they don’t care a whit about you or anyone except protecting their power over you. No matter what “they” say they bear no responsibility for you and will tell you anything to get you off their backs.
    RG DeSoto

  5. Jeff S. June 14, 2020 8:23 pm Reply

    ” He was waving a machete, so the police did what police are trained to do. They shot and killed him.”

    You are very naive and incorrect to make such a statement. Police are trained to protect others and themselves from what they reasonably believe to be imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death. And yes that can result in using deadly force. I suppose if someone is ever “waving” a machete at you, figure it out, good luck with that-don’t call 9-11.

  6. Jake June 15, 2020 2:22 am Reply

    You are tooooooooo much Gordon……jumping on the “let’s get rid of the police”….are you just jumping on the latest bandwagon?

    I’ll let in on a little secret….there are bad people in the world. When there is no accountability or responsibility, then people will do “bad things”. Having no deterrence (police) is a big invitation to do “bad things”. When the boogieman comes knocking, then are you going to call your favorite social worker to work through the problem next week?? Stop the madness!

  7. Citizen June 15, 2020 3:39 am Reply

    When George Floyd was allegedly killed by a callous police officer needlessly placing his knee to his neck for several minutes, the nation was united, for about a minute. Nobody in America looked at that video and thought, “that guy got what he deserved.” Nobody. And yet, leftist-led protests that quickly turned to lawless riots quickly turned off a huge segment of law-abiding American society. Instead of a rational, national discussion on police militarization, community policing, use of force, proper de-escalation tactics, and other common-sense reforms that would help ALL races in their interactions with law enforcement, the ‘movement’ quickly became about defunding police forces, creating quasi-communist policeless states in the middle of major U.S. cities, and “dismantling systemic societal structural racism,” or something.

    Tragically, what should have had absolutely nothing to do with race became ALL about race as the chattering class used one example to ‘prove’ a point real data and statistics can easily disprove. Instead of bringing in white and other color victims of unjust police brutality to create a multi-racial coalition against an evil that can affect anyone, and there are plenty such examples, they literally canonized a career criminal who once did five years in prison for holding a gun to the stomach of a pregnant black woman while her house was robbed. No, there weren’t 18 funerals for Tony Timpa and Daniel Shaver, much less a golden casket or a horse-drawn carriage, but those men also died unjustly at the hands of police, and both of those incidents, when you examine the details, were arguably more unjust than Floyd’s. The difference, of course, was the color of their skin, which is probably why you’ve never heard their names.

    Instead of a wrongly killed career criminal, it would be easy to wonder if George Floyd weren’t some otherworldly, Marvel Universe-style combination of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Mother Theresa. Next, look for Democrats to move to place his bust in the U.S. Capitol’s rotunda. As angry mobs burned down buildings, looted stores, vandalized property, assaulted and even killed police, the rest of America looked on, aghast, wondering if the entirety of Western civilization must burn because of the actions of one police unit.

    Then, Rayshard Brooks lost his life Friday night and the mob again lost their ever-loving minds. Instead of waiting for the facts and admitting the possible differences in the two cases, they burned down the Wendy’s where Brooks refused to be cuffed, fought police, grabbed a taser and ran. Brooks wasn’t on the ground, nor was he handcuffed, yet the left is lifting up this criminal as a martyr, just like Floyd, another example of police-gone-wild, roaming around looking to kill innocent black men willy-nilly. Atlanta’s police chief has resigned. Its mayor is condemning her own law enforcement, and the officer who fired his weapon has been fired and will likely face some sort of prosecution.

    Yet, all this could have been easily avoided. In a telling segment on Saturday night’s “Justice with Jeanine Pirro,” Former New York City Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik offered a few suggestions that “radical left-wing progressive mayors and governors” should give petty criminals and even violent “thugs” in order to avoid fatal confrontations with police. Because, despite what you’re hearing from the mob these days, these things usually tend to be a two-way street.

    “They can start with reforms like tell the thugs in your community don’t attack our police,” Kerik said. “Don’t assault our police. Don’t resist arrest. Don’t obstruct or interfere with an arrest. Don’t run from the police. Don’t run cops over with your car. Don’t take their tasers. Don’t take their weapons. Don’t take their guns, because if you do, we’ll use force. And we are not going to lose if we use force.”

    Duh, right? That stuff used to be obvious anyone with half a brain, but apparently it isn’t anymore. Weighing in on the same discussion, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino noted that it is, in fact, “illegal” to run from police: “Resisting arrest is a crime. If you don’t like that, change the laws and good luck having anyone arrested in your community ever. I want to be clear what you are suggesting if you are suggesting that’s not a crime. Do you think anyone can throw blows at the cops and take their weapons and run from them?”

    With Floyd, conservatives weren’t completely sure what the left wanted, but were nevertheless willing to for the most part be silent and put up with a LOT of unrest in no small part because the sight of a human being choked unmercifully like that touched us all. Now another man is sadly dead by the hands of police in this heightened climate, but anyone who thinks that Reyshard Brooks wouldn’t be alive had he not fought police and grabbed a taser is drinking some strong Kool-Aid. It’s often been said that if you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes, and this man was playing a really, really stupid game.

    We’re told unarmed African-American men are literally being hunted down and killed by police every day, when all of nine were killed during the entirety of 2019, most of those arguably justified. We’re told police are racist, but far more whites are killed by police than blacks, and police have even been shown to hesitate when facing black suspects in potentially deadly situations.

    In this climate, it wouldn’t surprise me if police officers don’t start getting fired and even prosecuted for daring to defend themselves against armed, active black shooters, much less those who steal their tasers. Were I a cop, I think I’d rather just take a beating and let the suspect run for the hills rather than become the next former-cop mugshot. Wouldn’t you? I don’t care if you’re the KKKleagle or the head of Antifa, nobody, and I do mean nobody, wants to be the next Derek Chauvin. None of this, of course, bodes well for the state of law and order in America. Criminals will run rampant, knowing they will get away with everything short of outright murder or, heaven forbid, making a mistake on their taxes. Minority communities will suffer the most, but those victims are just collateral damage to the left’s culture war.

    The left thinks it has the national tide, and maybe it does now, but by making this a race issue, leaving out other victims of police brutality, and going hysterical over cases where police were clearly justified in their use of force, that tide could quickly ebb. The left has exposed itself here for the race-baiting, evil hypocrites they are. Mobs can be powerful, destructive, even convincing in their own, Spanish Inquisitiony sort of way. But rational they are not. Over the long haul, let’s hope enough adults in the room can muster the courage to stand up against this insanity, before it’s too late.

    1. Citizen Cane June 15, 2020 1:50 pm Reply

      Would TGI please consider limiting comment lengths in this forum? How about a 25-30 line limit?

    2. Wailuan June 16, 2020 5:35 pm Reply

      I admit, I was surprised that the above comment was so long. But after reading it, I feel it was appropriate. Made a lot of sense. All of it needed to be said. The writer conveyed ideas in a way that was respectful and I think that we all could learn from that. The writer might consider applying for a job at TGI as this is well-written, balanced, and some of the best writing I’ve seen at this paper in awhile.

      1. Straw is cheap June 17, 2020 12:05 pm Reply

        Wailuan- that whole screed was a straw man propped up for far right wing nonsense. None of it was based in facts, and some key sentences really needed some proofing. But hey, as long as it generally agrees with your world view, great job, right?!

      2. Pete Antonson June 18, 2020 2:55 pm Reply

        Straw, you are too kind.
        It was also racist!

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