Pasand boycott has merits
I strongly disagree with Berkeley City Council member Miriam Hawley’s opinions that the council’s 7 - 2 vote to approve a resolution to support the boycott of Pasand Madras Cuisine is “premature” (Dec. 22, 2000).
Since Councilmember Kriss Worthington has already made the point that Lakireddy Bali Reddy has already made it clear that he planned to admit his guilt regarding his sexual exploitation of the girls, and the four other members of his family indicated that they would plead guilty to other offenses - before Prasad Lakireddy changed his mind, I will focus on another of my objections to Hawley’s “premature” judgment.
Hawley presumes that council members should wait passively for the results of the plea bargain or the court case to be completed - as if it is reasonable to assume that the outcome of these legal proceedings will necessarily be fair and just.
Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence that this is a poor assumption.
DNA tests are proving that increasing numbers of men, most of them African American, have been imprisoned for various violent crimes for which they are innocent.
Strong biases against rape victims - particularly in the past - have resulted in the unfair dismissal of thousands of valid cases of rape.
The sad fact is that the legal system and the systems of law enforcement are frequently racist, sexist, and classist. Celebrities, and wealthy, powerful men in general, are particularly likely to win innocent verdicts or to get off far too lightly. O.J. Simpson is the best known recent example of this phenomenon.
Reddy’s power and wealth may account for the shocking prediction that plea deals “could keep all five family members from spending any time behind bars,” (Berkeley voice, 10/27/00, p. A-1). Given this possibility, as well as the marked fallibility of the legal system, I consider it highly commendable that seven out of nine members of the Berkeley City Council want to increase the likelihood that justice will be done in this ugly case - rather than waiting to mindlessly rubber stamp whatever the outcome of the plea bargain or trial may be.
Diana E.H. Russell
Gratitude to those who gave for holidays
As we ring in the New Year, I wish to express my gratitude to a company that voluntarily offered aid to two families with young children during the holidays. In the spirit of giving, Vanessa Wiggins of Check Agencies of California, in Berkeley, made a contribution to a family from Cragmont and a family from City of Franklin Magnet, both Berkeley Elementary Schools.
The monetary contribution demonstrated the generosity and the spirit of giving that is present throughout the year in many ways, but especially during the holiday season.
The appreciation for the donation was best seen in the smiling eyes of the children of the families on Christmas day.
Because the generosity of Berkeley agencies, organizations, and the community at large are generally unmatched, I remind and/or invite every Berkeley resident to donate toys, food, clothing or cash to a Berkeley shelter once a month.
Lets continue to keep the spirit of giving alive all year round. Thank you.