When police fear going to prison, black people will stop dying

A protester at a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles on May 30. <span class="copyright">(Los Angeles Times)</span>
A protester at a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles on May 30. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes the truth about our institutional racism. I agree with him and others who speak of “conversations” we should have and making sure everyone is treated fairly.

But I also believe we’re talking this to death, literally, while policemen go on killing black people with almost no consequences.

Only one thing, I believe, is going to make them stop: They must know for certain that if they continue, they can be arrested, charged, tried, convicted and put in prison for years, just as every convicted killer is. If the justice system had acted this way for the past decades, so many families (black families predominantly) would not be grieving their many losses.

Fran Steketee, Westminster, Md.

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To the editor: Los Angeles had a similar situation to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis under the administration of Police Chief Daryl Gates. By 1982, 16 people had died after being in a chokehold, a tactic approved by Gates. Twelve of those killed were black men.

As a cardiologist who had written a book about the differences between black people and white people in medicine and healthcare, I was consulted by Gates to give credibility to his notion that the black males died because of an anatomical weakness in their neck arteries that rendered them more susceptible when a chokehold was applied.

I refused to corroborate his crackpot notions, which were tantamount to blaming the victim.

George Floyd, Eric Garner and other black men have suffered twice — first from murderous acts based on racism, and second from being blamed for not being able to breathe while black. This is a travesty that cannot be tolerated.

When will the American public rise up and acknowledge that black lives do indeed matter?

Richard Allen Williams, MD, Encino

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To the editor: As a white guy who is Abdul-Jabbar’s age, I agree with his op-ed article, except for one point.

I did not shake my head at the cruel injustice when I heard of Floyd’s death. Like Abdul-Jabbar, I thought, “Not @#$%! again.”

I did not want to throw something quite as much as I wanted to cry, but I have lived all my life aware of the suffocating injustice of racism. Since at least the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I’ve listened to people saying racism no longer exists in this country.

The thing that gets me most, of course, is the unfairness of it all. Aren’t those of us not subject daily to that unfairness able to recognize the drag it is on our entire society? Keeping large amounts of people under our thumb, unable to produce, to enhance, to breathe, is poison to our economy.

Denys Arcuri, Indio

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