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Letters to the editor

Civil rights legend deserved due

Cheers to the Journal Gazette for its May 3 article on Fort Wayne resident George Smith, who died April 29 at age 69. Every resident in his hometown should know his name and recognize his heroism.

Smith showed uncommon courage as a young leader in the civil rights movement. Its cause was to overturn the de jure racial segregation that defined “Jim Crow” throughout the South. The challenge was daunting; Southern white society enjoyed and zealously employed all legislative, judicial and law enforcement power to maintain Jim Crow.

Smith’s role in the movement was as director of the CORE office in Meridian, Miss. From 1963 through 1965 he organized and led demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, boycotts and protest rallies. His consistent reward? Hateful vitriol, thrown rocks, physical assault, blows from police billy-clubs, police-dog bites, arrest, abuse in custody, incarceration in a deplorable jail. A front-yard cross-burning, death threats telephoned in the wee hours and scrawled on a note tacked to his front door – the terror of these came courtesy of the Ku Klux Klan.

In the face of such hostility Smith put his life on the line every day. For three years. In 1965, with the passage of federal civil rights laws and victory over Jim Crow assured, he moved from Meridian to Fort Wayne. He resided here the past 48 years, humbly, not drawing attention to his years in the movement. Through the years, he became revered by many local blacks who learned his life’s story. He remained virtually unknown outside the black community – until the Journal Gazette’s recent article. Thank you for giving him his due.

LARRY LEE Fort Wayne

Common sense uncommon

I was impressed by the letter “Background checks better than other gun-control plans (April 24),” written by Derek Schaadt, grade 5.

He made the comment, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Automobiles kill too and, like guns, are in the control of people. When owning an automobile, there are extensive laws regarding its purchase, maintenance and control. So should it be with gun control. Automobiles are available, so the guns will be.

Common sense seems to be a thing of the past. It should be reinstated, especially by the NRA.

AUDREY E. DeBOLT Convoy, Ohio

Suspect forfeited Miranda rights

Emily Bazelon, in “Rule of law trampled in face of terror (April 28),” complains about how the police, FBI and U.S. government trampled on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s rights by not reading him his Miranda rights before questioning him for 16 hours. She makes a point of saying it is not about the public safety but about individual rights. I would argue that when an individual so egregiously destroys public safety, public confidence and life in general that they forfeit their Miranda rights. I have walked down the streets of cities where the police allowed the criminals to rule in such a manner. The children could not walk to school in safety. The children could not play in the grass for fear of being blown up. In fact, the streets were dead as the cities. If we allow our cities and streets to be run by these individuals, then we run the risk of becoming these cities.

The true question is: Where do individual rights end and community rights begin?

CHARLES GRADY Wolcottville

Help with vaccination coverage

As a pharmacist, I congratulate the General Assembly and Gov. Mike Pence for championing vaccines in Indiana. House Enrolled Act 1464 expands access to meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, human papilloma virus, whooping cough and pneumonia vaccinations by allowing pharmacists to administer them to qualifying patients. Pharmacists are a resource who are ready and able to help fight back against preventable illness and disease. This legislation will allow us to do that.

This is a small step in the right direction for the control of preventable illnesses and disease. While we will never be able to eliminate all preventable health threats, for every immunization administered, there is one fewer carrier. This legislation gives Indiana and our community another tool to fight back against outbreaks.

I am certain legislators will find much more to be done to expand vaccine access. For example, laws could be expanded to include greater eligibility for the pneumonia vaccine, in particular, as the new law only includes those 65 and older. Additionally, any further vaccines recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention could be administered by pharmacists.

This legislation takes effect on July 1. We look forward to helping make Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana a safer, healthier place to live. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.


Know proper flag disposal

Fort Wayne has numerous residences, business and athletic complexes flying the American flag on a daily basis. But is Fort Wayne aware of the United States flag etiquette requirements when the American flag becomes soiled, tattered or torn? Yes, there is a specific etiquette for retiring an American flag.

First, the flag should be replaced with a new one.

Second, the flag should not be thrown away in the trash or burned by an individual or group of individuals. The flag can only be disposed through a proper ceremony.

Third, soiled, tattered or torn American flags can be given to a veterans’ organization or the Fort Wayne Veterans Hospital main entrance at 2121 Lake Ave. for proper disposal.

Thank you, Fort Wayne, for your patriotism.