Racism and prisons

For 24 weeks, from June till early November, dozens of people from our community gathered every Tuesday in downtown Hood River. They gathered to raise awareness and bear witness to the many injustices that Black, Brown and Indigenous people must contend with every day living in our country. Somos Uno and Gorge Ecumenical Ministries organized and convened these peaceful vigils while practicing social distancing.

I’m taking a moment here to acknowledge and appreciate the steadfast commitment everyone who participated in these vigils keeping Black Lives Matter visible in the Gorge.

The same day I participated in one of the vigils I learned about a recently released Reuters report where yet another pattern of injustice became quite evident (www.reuters.com). Black, Brown and Indigenous people comprise a disproportionate number of people held in our jails and incarcerated in our prisons.

The Reuters investigation pulled together information from all 50 states about the number of people who died in our country’s approximately 1500 prisons and 500 jails from 2008-2019. This investigation compiled the first national database of more than 7500 people who died in our prisons and jails in this time period. Not only does the United States imprison more people than any other country in the world, more people die in our prisons and jails than in any other country in the world.

Nearly two-thirds of the people who died in prisons or jails during this time, about 5,000 people, died pretrial without ever having been convicted of a crime. Mental health conditions and drug abuse are contributing causes. Another factor is not being able to afford to post bail keeps more Black, Brown and Indigenous people in jails for extended amounts of time.

This report details more examples of the vicious cycle of systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We can’t kick yet another can down the road for our children and children’s children to address.

The time for new policies and interventions to address systemic racism in our prisons and jails is now.

Mimi Maduro

Mosier

My heroines

My heroines for the 2020 U.S. presidential election are the organizers who, for democracy, worked very hard to get more people to vote than ever before; nearly two-thirds of all eligible American’s voted!

There are national heroines such as Stacey Abrams and Michelle Obama but we have our own local examples. Bonnie New from Hood River with Indivisible Columbia Gorge, Debi Ferrar from The Dalles with Protect Oregon’s Progress, the ladies of Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network and others whom I don’t know: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Your hard work and dedication paid off.

Peter Cornelison

Hood River

Suicide and loss

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies by suicide. Every day, 132 people in the U.S. die by suicide. In Oregon, a suicide death occurs every 10 hours.

Nov. 21 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. I’ll be remembering my daughter, Susanna Gabay. Who will you be remembering? And how?

The emotions felt after a suicide loss are deeply personal and each person faces unique challenges in their grief. Shame, guilt, blame, misunderstanding, profound sadness, denial, and silence may abound.

If you have lost a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker to suicide, you may be grieving no matter how long it has been since the death. You are not alone. You have an opportunity to be with others willing to share how they are managing such a complicated grief. The Columbia River Gorge has hosted an annual Survivors of Suicide Loss Day program since 2011. This year, Wasco County’s YouthThink, courtesy of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s sponsorship, is offering this program through a Zoom format instead of the traditional two hour in person gathering. No matter where you are in your journey, I encourage you to attend this free event to find connection, support, and comfort with others impacted by suicide in our community. If you have not experienced the suicide of a loved one, you likely know someone who has — so please share this with them! I don’t tweet, nor use Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or Facebook.

While I prefer in-person contacts, during the pandemic, using Zoom can still bring us face-to-face, voice-to-voice, with no pressure to speak or share, from the comfort of your home. And for some who may have been intimidated about walking into an in person gathering, this Zoom format may work better! I hope to see and hear from you on my computer screen at 10 a.m. on Nov. 21! To receive the Zoom link, please call Debby Jones at YouthThink, 541-506-2673, or email her at debbyj@co.wasco.or.us.

Susan Gabay

Mosier

The facts

Here are the facts:

1. Joe Biden won at least 290 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 217, with Georgia currently doing a hand recount and North Carolina still counting but likely to go to Trump. In USA elections, whoever reaches 270 is considered the president-elect.

2. Biden has won close to 5 million more votes overall than Trump, and that number continues to grow.

3. All 50 state auditors — slightly more Republicans than Democrats — have confirmed that there were no issues of fraud in this election (sources: NY Times, CBS News, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, etc.).

4. Most of Trump’s lawsuits against the validity of the election have been denied due to a lack of evidence. A few are ongoing, but law experts say that none is likely to be successful. So far no one has affirmed any election fraud.

5. Just because Trump says or Tweets something doesn’t make it true.

The majority of American people have chosen Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as their next leaders, but Trump — without any credible evidence — is trying to create doubt in the public’s mind as a way of stealing the election.

This is scary stuff, no matter where you lean politically. Having free and fair elections that all candidates observe is a keystone of democracy. Without this assurance, we become an authoritarian state. It’s as simple as that.

Leigh Hancock

White Salmon

Trump’s best move

Prison might be safest place for Trump.

I think for decades his main career has been money laundering for the Russian mob and similar. This became difficult or even impossible under the bright spotlight of the presidency.

In criminal businesses, when a person loses usefulness, well, the business sure doesn’t want him around, blabbing about whatever to whomever. That’s just how it is.

His wife is reported as having been sobbing hysterically at the news he had won the presidency, and I expect this is the real reason. She’s no fool.

Hey, maybe he could go into full throttle blab, and end up in the federal witness protection program? Settled on 20 acres in a double wide in Wyoming, herding goats? Maybe he could get to like goats, humanize him a bit. Well, OK, not him, he hates himself and everyone. But his wife? I sense an actual human waaaaayyy down in there, and perhaps she could get to like taking care of goats. My brother kept goats, and really they’re a laugh a minute.

I like the idea!

He could get a Forest Service contract having his goats eating the blackberries on road embankments. Hire several illegal aliens, learn Spanish. Yes, he can reminisce to his illegals as his goats are munching away, “I used to be president. I had nukes and everything.” Si, si, whatever you say, boss.

Jerrold Richards

Lyle

Pink slip

Hey, Donald Trump — “YOU’RE FIRED!”

Gary Fields

Hood River

Mural of meaning

Thank you for publishing the opinion piece by Audrey Akin on racism (Nov. 4) and her workplace and the accompanying mural done by her co-worker. Ms. Akin so clearly, unsparingly describes what we all need to understand, that racism goes “undiscussed, unseen, unacknowledged, and un-understood”. Having a 100-foot mural painted about your workplace was a most salubrious event for Ms. Aiken. Thanks to her for sharing such a very clear description of how this affected her.

Patricia Arnold

Trout Lake

Sour Patch

For nearly four years, Americans have been force fed Sour Patch Kids and Gummy Worms in the form of President Trump. It has taken a LONG time for that initial sour taste to turn sweet. That day has arrived by the grace of God.

Bye Don.

Steve Kaplan

Hood River

Emotional election

The emotions that ran through me during the “election” week ran the whole gamut from anger, frustration, appalled, sad, disappointment, and just plain flabbergasted!

To think that an ideology would hate one person so much as to throw away a country and lives to oust that person. How pathetic. Liberals have no clue what they have done to this country!

In the Bible, God gave the people the king they wanted, not the one they needed. That didn’t work out so well for the people. Well, I am afraid the liberals are repeating history because God gave them the king they wanted in Biden. I give it less than three months before he is declared incompetent and K. Harris is sworn in to replace him. Within three years, they are going to destroy our economy, create more unemployment, run businesses out of the country, open our borders to every criminal element, close down any freedom to worship, cut off free speech unless it agrees with the liberal ideology, make graphic sex education for our kindergarten children legal, make pedophilia legal, make the murder of unborn humans a normal event, but the biggest hurt this country will face is the destruction of our constitution. They will start with the second amendment and work through it from there. Morality will be like the Sodom and Gomorrah of Biblical times. Energy will be rolling blackouts and only rich liberals will have electricity.

I fully expect that FEMA will be setting up internment camps for those of us deplorables who will fight to the death for our constitutional rights as they are currently written. You all wanted a civil war with your constant rioting and looting so maybe you just figured out how to bring it about? May God help us all.

Don Morby, USN retired

Mill A

Welcome home, disabled veteran?

I’ve been told to say out of some stores I walk through to help my recovery from PTSD.

A lot of veterans have both physical and other disabilities, as I do, that keep them looking for ways to recover.

I feel I’m being judged for my disability (when they tell me) to stay out of stores and am not allowed to live in certain areas.

I ask, why? I’m still proud to represent America’s men, women and children!

While in Ben Luc South Vietnam, my base was in the Mekong Delta, Operation Giant Slingshot, patrol boat river detachment.

All this I saw when I was 19 1/2 years old, 1 1/2 years out of high school in The Dalles.

I feel some would rather build themselves above others! My letter and non support come with tears.

Please treat veterans as family, not the enemy.

Steve Cochenour

The Dalles

More shelter needed

I’m calling for action, to shelter any individual who has no housing during weather events. Currently due to (The Dalles City Councilor) Darcy Long Curtiss’ perseverance, we can now house 12 (homeless individuals).

We have many more.

COVID-19 has restricted use of St. Vinnies (as an emergency shelter).

So can we can let people die in the weather because they can’t sit inside?

Our community has a social-justice problem. We don’t want to take care of the poor.

I serve with two homeless groups in town. A new group, The Remnant the lost sheep, has 77 members and a long-term plan to bring low income apartments (to The Dalles) and a mission and training and education.

But in the short term, right now, we just need to keep people alive.

I’m asking publicly, why (do we have) an empty (school) building (formerly Chenowith Middle School) that is not being opened by for emergency use? It is public property. Action needs taken immediately.

Elizabeth Turner

The Dalles

‘Masks are silly’

There, I said it — masks are silly. But silly is awesome! Then again, as a world-renowned expert (semi-retired), it doesn’t take much of an arm twist to get some silliness out of me — every day of the week and thrice on Fridays and Saturdays!

Just about everyone can’t wait until the next Halloween to bust out their favorite silly costumes. Or at Christmastime with the Santa hats, reindeer antlers, Frosty carrot-noses and pointy elf shoes appearing everywhere (and all things that also take the Christ out of Christmas).

Masks can be solid colors, stripes, plaid, tartan, or even paisley (for the ol’ hippies). Masks with pictures of our grandchildren or grandparents, inspirational quotes, cats, dogs, birds — maybe even a dog, cat, and bird kickin’ back on the couch watching a movie together.

So let’s all wear our masks and be silly together.

Jeff Zipfel

The Dalles

Recommended for you