THE WEEK IN COMMENTS: Citizens for Justice, terrorism safeguards, wrongful convictions and a new garage

Sunday, October 9, 2011 | 6:51 p.m. CDT; updated 9:35 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 9, 2011

Matthew Akins’ Citizens for Justice group received both applause and criticism from readers. J. Karl Miller's article about terrorism retaliation preventing additional attacks after 9/11 ignited a heated debate among commenters. A discussion on the death penalty and the updated proposal for a new downtown garage also attracted a lot of attention.

Citizens for Justice keep watchful eyes on Columbia Police Department

Comments: 60 / Commenters: 14

Matthew Akins’ Citizens for Justice group is seeking to empower the community by trying to catch police officers' misbehavior on tape and building an interactive resource for those frustrated by the police.

Ray Shapiro asked: "Is this group also working to improve the Citizens Police Review Board and our new city manager, or are they just being vigilant paparazzi?"

Jeremy Calton responded, writing: "Paparazzi sell photos. Taking videos of our public servants is not illegal. In fact, videos often exonerate officers when questions and complaints arise — that's right, recording officers PROTECTS them. But, unfortunately, dash cam video often mysteriously disappears or has strange gaps in the tape right when the event happened. Weird, I know."

Other commenters discussed the effectiveness of this group.

Mike Mentor said he doesn't "anticipate this group really working on anything," as it "seems more of an act of revenge for some transgression than an organized movement," and "the thrill is seeing a PO'd LEO and not social justice for all."

Mark Foecking said he would be suspicious of anyone filming him doing his job because "the issue is not so much what I might do, it's what they might do with the footage that might not accurately reflect the context of my actions."

Evan Savage proposed a question to the critics: "Instead of being critical of their movement, why not offer advice on how they could improve their tactics? If you feel they are not addressing the Review Board, how do you suggest they pursue such an avenue of public forum?"

Mike Mentor replied to Evan Savage by providing the rationale of his concern: "I just hope they don't get too caught up in their cause. I see a real problem with accosting officers on duty with a camera to try to engage them in some sort of interview or something about what they are doing or have done at another time. I have heard a saying that being a policeman is 90 percent boredom and 10 percent terror. I don't want these guys anywhere close to an officer that is in the middle of the 10 percent and that seems to be when these guys will be most amped to get in the middle of things..."

Ricky Gurley touched on a larger issue: "What has inspired this distrust of our Police Force? Why do citizens feel a need to 'Police the Police' or 'Watch the Watchers'? Has our Police Department been doing all that it can to inspire the public's trust in what they are doing? ... This kind of distrust does not just happen for no reason."

J. KARL MILLER: Ten years without a terrorist attack since 9/11 is nothing to dismiss

Comments: 36 / Commenters: 14

J. Karl Miller considers the war on terrorism, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, suspect detention and Guantanamo imprisonment some of the safeguards of national security. The commenters debated whether these actions lead to overreaction and create more fear around the nation.

"Terrorists would have to take down a fully loaded Airbus A380 every 3-4 days to match our daily average highway death toll," commenter Derrick Fogle wrote. "Yet people hop in their cars every day without care, then submit to expensive, intrusive scans and pat-downs once we arrive at the airports, out of fear. This isn't rational risk assessment. This is being successfully terrorized."

Mark Foecking said: "Our national reaction to Silent Spring is probably the source of even greater fear than terrorism, yet the death toll from pesticides and chemicals is an infinitesimal fraction of the death toll from cars (and probably less than 9/11 itself). Same with nuclear power."

Commenters also debated whether Clinton or Bush deserved more credit for counterterrorism.

"If you think that no reprisals were ever conducted against terrorists or terrorist organizations under Clinton, then you are absolutely wrong. The counterterrorism program expanded far more under Clinton than it did under Bush and there were many very successful operations," said Rob Robinson.

Frank Christian disputed this by saying, "C/G was the policy of seek out, arrest and convict the perpetrator of every terrorist attack? W. Bush's determination after 9/11, to protect the American people, was the same as any mechanic, farmer, or honest politician, to cure any problem one goes to the source of that problem."

Dan Milsop thinks the years without attacks is not the outcome of anti-terrorism actions: "We have not prevented several attacks. We have merely been lucky that several Islamic terrorists have had their devices fail to function properly. If they had, would would have several hundred more dead to grieve for."

DAVID ROSMAN: Guilty until proven innocent, or guilty even when innocent?

Comments: 22 /Commenters: 7

David Rosman shares his concerns about our legal system. The commenters slammed Rosman's confusion about why some people can support the death penalty while opposing abortion.

Michael Williams said: "It amazes me Rosman is confused why someone would be against abortion yet favor the death penalty. I guess, to him, a killing is a killing without mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Not to me. A heinous crime is heinous because there are aggravating factors. As noted above, one is innocent and free of ANY crime, the other is not."

Michael Williams also slammed Gregg Bush's notion (in haiku, no less) that "banning abortion doesn't save any babies. It just kills women." Williams proposed two questions:

"(1) If a pregnant woman is killed by a gunman along with her fetus, in your opinion is it a single or double homicide? Before you answer, remember a homicide MUST involve the death of a human being, not a cow, horse, insect, or a leaf. (2) A newborn caught on the wrong side of the birth canal (i.e., outside) can be just as unwanted as one on the other side. Should the mother have a right to kill her unwanted newborn, or does the newborn have rights?"

Columbia City Council approves six-story Short Street garage

Comments: 7 /Commenters: 6

The construction proposal of a $9 million six-story, 410-space garage on Short Street was approved by the City Council. This is bigger than the earlier plan to build five stories and 340 spaces.

Readers commented on why public opinion wasn't taken into account when this project was drafted.

"No one from the public spoke because most knew it would be a waste of time," said reader Mike Martin. "This $9 million baby Garagezilla was a done deal with this Council months ago. More and more, people are asking -- does this Council represent us -- or special financial interests? If these garages are any indication, the answer is painfully obvious."

Ray Shapiro believes the City Council mistook the public's silence for compliance.

"Why try now to create the illusion that because no public comments were made against the building of the garage that the public doesn't care," he wrote. "My guess is that there's a bigger plan to ban most private vehicles from 'The District' so that these mega-garages will become in demand."

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