Blessed are the peacemakers

I don’t know what President Donald Trump was trying to accomplish Monday evening when he ordered federal officers to disperse with tear gas and flash grenades peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceable assembly so that he could walk over to historic St. John’s Episcopal church for a photo op. What struck me was how small and alone he looked standing on the broad sidewalk in front of the church.

I believe he profaned the Bible by awkwardly waving it around like a stage prop. And the boarded up facade of the church seemed to be closing its eyes to the craven, opportunistic spectacle the president offered the people of our country. It might have been better if he had kneeled and asked for divine support in these troubled times or prayed for the repose of George Floyd’s soul.

Perhaps he might have actually opened the Bible and read the splendid lessons from the Sermon on the Mount, especially the one about “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

John Contreni


Trump should wear a mask in Maine

I understand that this week President Donald Trump will visit Puritan Medical Products, the maker of swabs for coronavirus testing.

Trump went to military school; so did I. We were taught that a good leader sets the example for others to follow, so I hope the president wears a mask while he is touring the facility in Guilford. And a nice photo op of him wearing a mask would also help send the right message.

David P. Frasz, M.D.


Bad cops and mass shootings

There are similarities between racial issues and firearms issues. The response to the killing of George Floyd by a bad cop and the public outcry after a mass shooting have a lot in common.

One bad cop does in no way represent the majority of law enforcement officers any more than one bad gun owner is representative of the millions of law-abiding firearms owners.

The response to either event is also similar. Kneejerk reactions from otherwise intelligent people and expected responses from activists. After a firearms incident, both groups go after the legal responsible firearms owner as if that will end the bad things bad people do. It won’t.

In the case of Floyd, some folks, both black and white, with honest feelings about the actions of a bad cop, try to show their distress by peacefully marching around with signs. The activists, again both black and white, seem to use the event as an excuse for their criminal intent. Both groups use perceived racism as the justification for their actions.

The large number of white people that show up at these protests destroys that narrative. Most white people that I have known are not in any way racist. They may not pursue relations with people of color, and the same holds true for most blacks that I have known. I don’t think that makes them racist, any more than firearms ownership makes you more likely to initiate a mass shooting.

There have always been people who hate — some black, some white. Laws and protests will not change that. Violent protests that cause irreparable harm to innocent people need to be dealt with firmly and harshly. There is no justification for the violence we have witnessed over the past few days. It serves no one but the bad in our society.

Leo Mazerall Jr.

Stockton Springs

Protect inmates from COVID-19

The cases of COVID-19 found at Maine Correctional Center in Windham are warnings that we need to take seriously to prevent deaths.

I was incarcerated as a juvenile for four years. I was there because other systems, from Child Protective Services to foster care to group homes, all failed to provide the support I needed. All too often this is why people are incarcerated. Nobody should face infection or death because our society can’t provide the support so they don’t end up in the corrections system.

Every inmate and staff member in Maine jails and prisons should be tested for COVID-19, just as has been done in many shelters and assisted living facilities where cases have been identified. Tests should be repeated regularly for staff as they come in and out of the facilities daily.

Though the county jails and juvenile facilities have reduced their population some, more could be done. The governor should use her power to release, and provide safe housing for, more inmates, including all juveniles and all inmates with two years or fewer remaining on their sentences who are not an immediate danger to a family or community member.

For those who stay incarcerated, there need to be plentiful masks and hygiene supplies for all. All corrections staff should be wearing masks at all times. And inmates should be housed no more than one person to a room.

Kyle Bennett


Some questions for you

We all know that few cops are murderers and few protestors are looters. Most of us, I believe, are absolutely appalled by the sight and fact of George Floyd being killed in Minneapolis and the aftermath of damage and despair. Still, I need to ask people to ask themselves a few questions:

What if you saw an immobilized person surrounded by and being held down by police on the streets of Portland, Portsmouth, Sanford, Dover, Eliot, York? What if it looked wrong to you? Would you stop? Would you ask what’s going on? Would you try to film it? What if the person on the ground, in severe distress, was white?

The travesty of Trayvon Martin’s killing, the killing of African-Americans by police or armed, racist vigilantes are near daily news! This injustice has been loud and clear since the ship, Isabella, arrived in 1684 with 150 slaves. Of more than 100,000 lives lost in this pandemic, far more of them are black.

So final question: What do you think would be different for you if you were born black?

Carol Selsberg