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Hard to spin

In response to last week's news story, which included a photo of numerous riot-geared Colorado Springs police teargassing a lone teen-ager: Great pictures. It's hard to put a positive spin on jack-booted, helmeted thugs pepper-spraying a guy with a camera. (Maybe they thought he was going to start clubbing them with his Nikon? Yeah, that's it, that's the ticket.)

The Colorado Springs Police Department falls into lockstep with right ways of thinking. Those with mental disabilities have often been singled out (for example, remember the guy they shot in St. Mary Cathedral's bathroom a couple years ago, or the guy they shot who was threatening them with a stick?). CSPD probably figured it was time to branch out and start cracking some anti-war heads too.

Colorado Springs is in a beautiful part of the country, but law enforcement there is just plain brutal, scary and unrepentant. Chief Velez should be ashamed of himself.

-- Andy Simons


Editor's note: The writer is a former Colorado Springs public defender.

Hiding behind children

It is a shame that the children received a dose of pepper spray and tear gas, but where is the same outrage that is directed at Colorado Springs Police Department, at the professional protestors that caused the disturbance?

I personally think that some of these protestors hide behind their children, because they think that the police won't take action against them. If these protestors are so "peaceful," why were they stopping cars on Academy Boulevard and beating on them? If these protestors were so "peaceful," why are there pictures of these people shouting in the face of police?

All of these groups expressing outrage against the Colorado Springs Police Department, like to cover all of their actions in the blanket of the First Amendment, but refuse to answer for any actions that their cowardly friends perform.

I know it's hard for people to support our military and law enforcement that protect our freedoms, including the First Amendment, but at this time it is the only thing that stands in the way of individuals or countries that want to destroy this country. It will have to do until we live in the worldwide agrarian utopia of tomorrow.

-- Mark Allison


A radical twist

I suppose we really shouldn't be outraged at the Colorado Springs Police Department's use of tear gas at the peace demonstration here. They were simply following the lead of the Bush administration in using the doctrine of pre-emptive strike: If you suspect someone has the intention of harming you now or in the future, clobber them before they have a chance to get at you.

Sen. Robert Byrd has said, "The doctrine of pre-emption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense."

I'm one of the thousands whose peaceable presence at this rally has been virtually overlooked by the media and by a president who, under the guise of "leadership," appears to forget that ours is supposedly a government representing all citizens (not just those with vested interests in his agenda). Oh, that's right -- presumption of innocence, and representative government, are values this proposed war is meant to protect. Shucks, what do I know -- I'm only a citizen.

-- Pat Musick

Colorado Springs

Gas 'em

Some say that the Colorado Springs Police Department response was hasty, excessive and more appropriate for a life-threatening riot, yet the protest in question was not.

I submit that the CSPD action did not happen soon enough, or at best, happened just in time. Waiting for an escalating event to become threatening before intervening would have been a bad choice.

Some argue that only a handful of protesters were to blame. Perhaps that's true, but in the chaos of the moment police were not afforded today's benefits of hindsight and analysis. Unfortunately peaceful protesters had to be painted with the same brush that applied to the troublemakers in the situation. Future organizers should consider snow fences and promote internal peer control to prevent unwanted behavior.

And please don't emotionalize this by exploiting the thoughtlessness of parents who exposed their children to this explosive situation! Tear gas is not selective. Let's hope that for future protests parents learn from this one and leave their kids home. (Unless they deliberately want to use them as human shields.)

I think the police and the city are making a mistake in entertaining calls for investigations and apologies. They ought to make it clear that safety of nonparticipant citizens is their top priority, and the first sign of escalation at future events will be addressed more swiftly. Protests that cannot self-restrain must disband.

-- Joe Oppelt

Colorado Springs

Disgust Down Under

I am disgusted with the terrorism displayed by the authorities in beautiful Colorado Springs.

The report reached us all the way in Western Australia. I lived in Colorado Springs a few years ago -- and I'm now fully preoccupied exposing the corruption of the Australian government in relation to asylum seekers, who are held indefinitely -- without charge -- in maximum security facilities around Australia.

It's tragic that the Bush administration's corruption has even penetrated the peaceful town of the Springs.

-- Jack H. Smit

Fremantle, Western Australia

Rolling right along

Thank you for providing coverage of the Rolling Stones' stellar Feb. 1 show in Denver, "More Geezer Glory" (Livelong Days, Feb. 6).

However, John Hazlehurst's review is a bit deficient. The show was indeed "good beyond imagining." But Mr. Hazlehurst failed to adequately convey several important elements regarding the Stones' most recent Denver performance.

Yes, the band played the expected big hits mentioned in the review. The audience was also treated to more rarely played gems like "Dead Flowers," "Rocks Off," "Rock Me Baby" (with opener Jonny Lang!), and "Mannish Boy." Also unmentioned was the utterly smokin' "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," a 1971 Rolling Stones classic that the band had never played live prior to their current tour.

Additionally, the opening act, Jonny Lang, was not "too long." Hey, we Colorado Stone Heads did not have to endure Brian Adams, as we did when the Rolling Stones played McNichols Arena in 1999!

Mr. Hazlehurst referred to the event as a "rock concert," which is not accurate. "Forget the rock, baby, it's all about the roll" (Keith Richards).

Now a word about wood. The review refers to guitarist "Ron Woods." In fact, the name is Ron Wood, a small but important detail.

Lastly, thanks for giving the people of the Pikes Peak region an account of a Rolling Stones show that, among the die-hard fans who have attended multiple shows during the current tour, ranks among the absolute best, including the amazing Jan. 19 HBO show.

Roll on!

-- Hascy Tarbox

Colorado Springs

Help them!

While the economy has hit the arts community as hard as it hit our local and state government, private businesses, and many un- and under-employed individuals, the arts will figure out a way to continue to flourish here. In reference to Noel Black's Jan. 30 Culture Vulture column, in which he notes all of the local transitions during the past year (or more including Bill Holmes), I would argue that the moves were primarily based on the individuals' needs to match personal desires for growth with the right opportunities.

I believe that Noel, and others in positions like him, can help the local arts scene through a much-needed advocacy for public and private support of the arts, as well as the exploration of more cooperation and collaboration between groups and individuals.

Although there is no denying that the arts and culture in Colorado Springs, and all over the state and country for that matter, have experienced changes and financial set-backs of late, in actuality, the Fine Arts Center's plans to expand are not on hold. On the contrary, the FAC conducted a feasibility study, which has indicated significant support for an expansion. While the exact size, location and design of an expansion are yet unknown, it is now the task of the FAC board and staff to determine how to best facilitate an exciting expansion project in the current economic climate.

-- David Turner

Former Director/CEO

Fine Arts Center

Hard to breathe

I was disappointed to see the full-page color center spread in this issue advertising Camel cigarettes. I thought you guys were independent thinkers. I didn't expect you to succumb to the power of lying, greedy corporations like R.J. Reynolds.

As a parent of a child with a fatal lung disease, I am expressing my opinion to you as an example to my children. I am trying to teach them to think for themselves and to question things presented to them as "facts" in the paper and on television. Prior to this, I used your publication as an example.

I know that the law only prohibits tobacco advertising in publications that are aimed at children, but perhaps you were not aware that you have quite a few young readers.

I would like to see the Independent donate a nice-size ad for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides Walk to Cure CF coming in May, or feature an article dispelling the myths of organ donation and transplantation, or feature the National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Committee, which is responsible for establishing a national CF Awareness Week in the United States and happens to be located right here in Colorado Springs.

I hope you are breathing easily. Many people in this world cannot.

-- Lenora Degen

Colorado Springs

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