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Reporter Letters to the Editor on politics and political protest

BOB DeSTEFANO PHOTO

BOB DeSTEFANO PHOTO

Stand up
To the Editor:
There has been a marked increase in activity by thugs, thieves and vandals. Political yard signs, which are on private property, have been not only been stolen, but violently ripped to pieces across the Island. This form of bullying is an attempt to suppress people’s freedom of speech. It is un-American. Complaints have been made to the Police Department. Unfortunately, their response is: “This happens every year.”

It does happen, but I don’t recall this level of bullying. People calling police have also been told, “It’s probably kids.” I’m quite sure that it’s adult behavior and it’s very unfair to blame it on “kids” without evidence.

I encourage all victims to continue reporting these incidents to the police as they replace their signs and stand up for their rights.

HEATHER REYELK
Chair, Shelter Island Democratic Committee

The making of Americans
To the Editor:
Bob DeStefano’s column “The anthem, the flag and protest” (September 22), described the experience of his ancestors coming to America and his distaste for the actions of athletes protesting the killings of black men by police officers. Like Bob, the stories of how my ancestors came to America from Eastern Europe and Russia to escape poverty and pogroms are embedded in my DNA.

I grew up on tales of their courage and commitment to finding a better life in America. Their actions make me who I am today.

But the lessons I learned from them and the relationship between their experiences and the experiences of African-Americans are very different from Bob’s.

It is too easy to romanticize the experiences of our ancestors. Jewish, Irish or Italian, they did not find American universally welcoming. They faced discrimination in housing, education and employment. We all carry in our memory the defaming words that were used in speaking about them. Luckily they had communities from their homelands who shared their rich cultural heritage. These communities eased their way into America, but it still took several generations before their children and grandchildren found their way into broader American culture.

Second, the experience of African-Americans in this country is very different. Our ancestors came of their own free will. The ancestors of African-Americans were brought in chains and kept as slaves. They didn’t have the benefit of a cultural group for support; their cultural heritage was lost on the slave boats and in the destruction of their families. In the years since slavery,

Reconstruction and Jim Crow ended and the Civil Rights era began, progress has been steady but slow. Just as the story of my ancestors is imbedded in my DNA the story of their ancestors is imbedded in their DNA and the history of racism practiced by the larger American society is embedded in the American DNA. None of this is easy to overcome.

Third and last, who better to protest than professional athletes who have the attention of the world. It takes courage and conviction to put reputations and careers on the line to use their constitutional right of free expression. Our ancestors were helped by others in their community who took similar actions. No matter how much support we feel for police officers, and my own son is one, it’s impossible not to believe that something is wrong in the current climate and that the lives of black men and police officers and therefore all of us are at risk because of it.
MYRA PESHKOWITZ
Shelter Island

Symbolic acts
To the Editor:
Re: Bob DeStefano’s column of September 22. Some of the individuals to whom Mr. DeStefano refers are African-Americans.

Their ancestors did not come to America to make a better life, as his did, but were brought here as slaves with absolutely no rights and no chance to benefit from their hard work.

Recently conflicts between black citizens and some American police officers have resulted in civilian deaths. Many black citizens, including public figures, believe that some of these deaths were unjustified. They have begun protesting through symbolic acts such as kneeling during pre-game ceremonies.

As for the relationship between these athletes’ protests and their big salaries — athletes are not paid for their allegiance to the United States. They are wealthy because their talents draw customers to extremely profitable mass entertainment companies.
TULIA LIMARZI
Shelter Island

Join the team
To the Editor:
It will be October in a couple of days and that means Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time to display your pink ribbon, if you have one, on the street near your home or business.

It’s also time to get screened, if you haven’t in the last 12 months, and make sure those around you do as well. Screenings save lives. If you don’t already know your breast density, ask your doctor. A mammogram may not be all the screening you need. You can also watch Channel 22 for the award-winning movie “Happy Gram,” to learn more on breast density and screenings.

The Town Board has once again issued a proclamation for October to aid in Breast Cancer Awareness and declared October 15 as “Pink Day,” so please wear something pink on that day.

This year I’m again walking the Shelter Island 5K on October 15 and am honored to have Assemblyman Fred Thiele joining me and my team, “Team Flamingo,” to support local charities on the East End. Please join us in our effort to make sure every woman gets screened.

Due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent signing of legislation, clinics will be open longer hours to accommodate more screenings in New York.

Feel free to stop in Shelter Island Wine and Spirits and grab a 5K application or register online at shelterislandrun.com to join Team Flamingo or make a donation supporting our team’s efforts. Donation checks made out to NFBHC (North Fork Breast Health Coalition) can be sent to
T. Montant, P.O. Box 1198, Shelter Island Hts. NY 11965

The following Saturday, October 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., there is a wonderful event — the Real Men Wear Pink Cocktail Party at the Maidstone Tennis Club in East Hampton, dedicated to women who have lost their lives to breast cancer. The event includes cocktails, food, a large silent auction and many raffle prizes. Please join Assemblyman Thiele and yours truly there as well. I have both event tickets and raffle tickets for anyone interested in attending with some great prizes, many donated by generous people here on the Island.

For more information on any of these things, please feel free to call me or stop by the wine shop.

TOWNY MONTANT
Shelter Island

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