Letters to the Editor…

Making the best of it

To the Editor:

Like many commuters, I was dismayed when 1/3 of SEPTA’s rolling stock was taken out of service due to Hyundai’s faulty attachment of the train’s wheels to the chassis. Fortunately, aggressive action was promptly taken, averting a possible tragic incident.

The new schedule (which keeps getting revised) allows for only one train per hour much of the day, and these trains have been subject to annoying delays due to passenger overloads. SEPTA has advised riders to find alternatives to the train, and during the upcoming convention (July 25-28) this would seem to be excellent counsel.

I had the bad fortune to miss my train while trying to find a parking space on Myers (at a distance that seemed half-way to Morton), and trudged morosely to the station. A SEPTA worker posted there, noting my woeful countenance, informed me of a Route 109 bus that would be soon leaving from outside 101 S. Chester, just south of the roundabout. (They run approximately every 15 minutes.) A surprisingly comfortable ride with an excellent driver landed me at 69th Street, where the El whisked me into town.

Coming home, helpful advice from another SEPTA worker helped me avoid the overloaded, generally late 5:28 p.m. out of Jefferson Station, and advised me that the trains that end at Secane are now supplemented with a speedy shuttle bus to all stops beyond.

I am impressed with the speed and consideration with which SEPTA has responded to a crisis not of their making.

Rob Dreyfus

Preserving the Trust

To the Editor:

While most of the United States eased into a short week after celebrating the country’s 240th year of Independence, bad cops and a bad man pummeled America’s sense of Justice and civil behavior. Baton Rouge, Louisiana has historically abused African Americans during law enforcement, officially and unofficially. So another blue on black incident was not surprising. Conscientious witnesses and video (sadly, none from the arresting uniformed officers) brought sunlight to dismal history. St. Paul, Minnesota, is better known for its fair Nordic liberalism than abusive policing. An isolated episode in a municipal PD was magnified by its sickening echo of Baton Rouge.

In Dallas, Texas, on night three, five police and transit officers were slain by an ex-Army African-American sniper while dutifully monitoring a peaceful demonstration protesting the Baton Rouge fatality. Five dead among Dallas’s finest rocked our equilibrium. One sick man vividly introduced mass hate police crime. A copycat three-policeman interstate murder in Baton Rouge tore deeper wounds on Sunday past.

Our Constitution, with its enviable Bill of Rights, is 229 this year. Old for historic empires marking enduring civilizations; young relative to time. It is fragile nonetheless. Amended, the founding document now grants freedom for all, with the faith that each will do unto our neighbor as we would have done to ourselves. The compact asks us to respect the law, and enforcers of the rule of law, in exchange for this freedom. As Baton Rouge and St. Paul battered trust for civilians, Dallas and Baton Rouge fractured the faith in this compact among police on the front line of enforcement nationwide.

These seismic events don’t just happen in large cities. They can occur anywhere, including Swarthmore, where a public fist-fight or an exchange of racial epithets would dispirit and outrage the community. We have a slim margin for civility. Steady professionalism by our police, and constant civilian respect and support are all that is required to maintain it. Parents, by word and action, refresh your children’s respect for the law and our country. Say hello and give thanks to members of your police department. Civilians, say “good morning” to someone you don’t know in town, and share a longer chat with a person who appears in need of one. The connection may halt a corroding mind or give an early warning.

And, police everywhere, get back to the basics of serving and protecting without profiling late night motorists or pedestrians, or regarding local youth as “entitled.” Youth (and adults) of all hues are only entitled to equal protection under the law. Most importantly, Swarthmore, update your nonviolent resolution training. We would be wise to form a committee to review the past and map positive reform ahead of potentially fatal misunderstandings. Include our police chief, mayor, residents (say 5, including two minorities), a criminal justice scholar, a neutral out-of-towner, senior Swarthmore College administrator, and a college student. It is important that our delicate national experiment is nurtured regularly at the local level. Peace,

Leonard Ellis
Swarthmorean, American, Human

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One thought on “Letters to the Editor…

  1. Thanks for this inspiring letter. The action plan is a good idea. It’s important to have community structures that reflect our most positive values and good communication in place at times like these. Our community needs to be prepared to respond if a crisis arises.

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