Jacqueline Smith’s letter (June 13) made me reflect about several issues.

First, I am not at all confident I would recognize every counterfeit bill. Perhaps George Floyd was passing one without realizing it.

Second, under the American justice system, everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, even those with prior convictions.

Third, Smith cites statistics that reveal striking evidence of U.S. racism. As of June 4 this year, 172 whites and 88 blacks died from police shootings. Although the ratio of blacks to whites in the population is less than 1 to 5, blacks account for more than half of those killed in police shootings.

Of course, these statistics do not tell us how many additional victims were unarmed or shot in the back, posing no threat to officers. They do not include George Floyd’s death (no shooting there). Nor do they include the deaths of blacks who died from police actions, such as Eric Garner (New York City, 2014, chokehold) and Freddie Gray (2015, Baltimore, police negligence in transporting him). Official statistics hide the full dimensions of the excessive use of force by police against minorities.

We cannot expect anyone to be perfect, even the police. However, we can and should expect them to treat all suspects the same, regardless of their race and income. Even more importantly, and especially in these distressing times, law enforcement must confront its racism. It must turn away from violent responses in favor of de-escalation techniques.

Anne Williams, Lewiston


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