I’d like to express my dismay at the setting up of the “Community Justice Center,” which focuses on protecting us good residents of Oak Park against the dangers of undesirable people possibly spitting and cursing [To spur local prosecutions, Alvarez opens local office, News, July 14].

I often hire two young black men whom I’ve known for years to cut my grass, paint, and help me in ways that I (a senior) need help. They both have records and are trying with all their effort to build new lives on the straight and narrow, in a time when there simply are no jobs to be had. The Oak Park police are constantly harassing them over any little thing. It’s my right and responsibility to trust them or not, to support them in their new lives, or to support the police in their efforts to put them behind bars again where I can support them with my tax money for the rest of their lives.

I’ve always felt respect and gratitude for the integrity of the Oak Park police, but lately their spirit seems aggressive and rude. I guess I’m going to have to write a “hall pass” for my workers to even walk through Oak Park. What kind of people are we becoming? We used to pride ourselves on being a community committed to diversity and justice; now we’re becoming a Nazi state. An Oak Park friend told me recently that her neighbor, an African-American lawyer who lives next door to her in central Oak Park, was stopped by the police while strolling on his own block. Without identification, even though he owned a house on the street, even then he was taken down to village hall like a criminal! This man’s comment was, “Ask any black man in Oak Park – he’s been stopped.”

Are we so paranoid of losing our DVD players and iPhones that we’ll become a police state against people of color? What kind of people are we becoming?

Marti Matthews
Oak Park

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