Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Change policing to promote public safety

The conviction of a Minneapolis cop in the murder of George Floyd does not make me feel more safe in the presence of police.

It is not just “one bad apple” who killed someone. It is a system that allows police to use deadly force, and get away with it, when they feel threatened. It’s still a system that tells police not to rat on another officer by speaking out against harmful, or even deadly, behavior. It’s still a system that tells police unions to defend their own even when cops do horrible things. It’s still a system that promotes racism in profiling and arrests.

Roughly 1,000 people a year are killed by cops. We need to put police on trial any time they hurt or kill someone. But we also need to put policing on trial. So many of us do not feel safe and protected by police. I fear interactions with police, and I’m older and look white. Imagine what it’s like for those who are younger or whose skin is darker.

Police are supposed to do law enforcement, but what’s really important is public safety. We need to change policing until it actually promotes public safety. Right now, it does not.

Larry Dansinger


Never again

For those who were walking around Portland last week, you probably saw the Time and Temp building’s lights flash ” NEVR AGAN.” Genocide descendants yearn for these words to actualize, living our whole lives hearing our families’ stories of displacement, trauma and dispossession.

However, “never again” can only be actualized if perpetrators face their history. If Turkey doesn’t acknowledge its wrongdoing in the past it means that it can do it again. And it is.

This past fall, Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s social, political and military support, violated three different ceasefire agreements. They killed thousands of Armenians in Artsakh and conducted a land grab in 2020 of all years.

For Armenians everywhere, this felt all too familiar, echoing back to our family’s experiences not even so long ago. Indigenous Armenians were killed or forced out of their homelands in 1915 and in 2020. In both instances, the common denominator was Turkey.

If recognition was widespread, would this kind of atrocity have occurred again? The Turkish government and its ally Azerbaijan still vehemently deny the Armenian genocide and teach genocide denial actively in classrooms to this day, fueling recent and potentially future ethnic cleansing campaigns in and outside of the region.

Ethnic cleansing and genocides are continuing around the world from Artsakh, to Ethiopia, to China, and beyond. If we don’t recognize past genocides, we allow them to happen again. Period.

Never again should any people, nor any generation have to carry this pain and sorrow.

Ava Gurekian

Chapter President

Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief


Helping students feel connected

For many young people, middle and high school are full of positive experiences, forming new social connections, participating in sports and extracurricular activities, setting future goals and developing personal identity. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted that typical experience for students.

Data from the 2021 Maine KIDS COUNT Data Book shows 25 percent of students feel less connected to classmates, adults and school than before the pandemic. This has resulted in an increase in youth experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Settings that were once a model of consistency and structure (such as school, sports and extracurricular activities) are now unpredictable.

Daily, students wonder if they will suddenly move from in-person learning to remote, or if activities they enjoy will happen. Clear expectations, routine and consistency are basic norms we can provide children to set them up for success, which the pandemic has disrupted. More than ever, our students need schools to be a safe place where they can connect to peers and adults.

With many mental health services moving to teletherapy models, schools are a rare place children can receive in-person mental health treatment for depression or anxiety they are experiencing. While the pandemic continues to disrupt normal life, schools and communities must look to creative solutions for ways youth can participate in activities that provide them a sense of belonging and identity. If we can keep youth feeling connected, we can alleviate the stress and dysregulation caused by the pandemic, and ensure they are supported through this crisis.

Matthew Howard