06-11-2020 Letters and Commentary

Police department policy changes needed

Editor: During a speech in July, 2017, attended by front line police officers, Donald Trump, President of the United States said, “please don’t be too nice…” during suspect arrests. It appears that Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin and three of his associates took that message to heart when they arrested George Floyd the last week in May. After restraining and cuffing Mr. Floyd, multiple video recordings of the incident indicate he was unarmed, under control, and was not a threat to these officers or anyone in the vicinity. Several questions come to mind regarding what followed: Is there an actual arrest process that allows multiple officers to press a suspect into the pavement, with one kneeling on his neck? When Mr. Floyd began to say he could not breathe, why did the fourth officer not intervene? Upon the victim becoming unresponsive, why did this application of restraint continue for more than two minutes? All four officers have now been arrested. Derek Chauvin is charged with second degree murder and second degree manslaughter. The other three are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. The commission of a crime of this magnitude is tragic, senseless, and an assault on human decency. This murder of yet another unarmed African-American individual undermines faith in the proper functioning of police forces throughout this country. President Trump should use this opportunity to call for police department policy changes across America to stop the use of lethal force on our citizens. However, I won’t hold my breath until that happens. (We vote in November!) Cynthia Miller Benton Harbor

Hagar Township reopens offices

Hagar Township will reopen the Hagar Township Hall offices to the public for normal Township services on Monday, June 22. Regular office hours will resume: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Wednesday 3-7 p.m.; and Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. Township Assessor, Building Inspector, and Supervisor are available by appointment only at this time. Please call 269-849-0455 or email hagarclerk@- gmail.com to arrange an appointment. Hagar Township Hall is located at 3900 Riverside Road, Benton Harbor. All individuals entering the hall will be required to observe social distancing of six feet and are additionally required to wear a mask.

Great Outdoors Month

Communing with nature is a wonderful experience, and one of the affects from the coronavirus pandemic no one predicted has been the ability for many to reconnect with nature. People have been putting down their phones, tablets and computers and disconnecting from the virtual world to instead plug in to what is happening outdoors in the real world. A simple walk around the block for fresh air has become a daily encounter with a neighbor you never knew — polite waves have turned into generous smiles and caring conversations. Perhaps for the first time you have discovered plants or wildlife that you never noticed in your neighborhood or backyard — what once was unknown and neglected is now cared for and nurtured.

Nature has a way of changing us for the better. Science tells us that simply spending 20 minutes in nature is enough to lower our stress levels. I can’t think of a better time than now for natural stress relief. As it turns out, June is National Great Outdoors Month. What better time than now to enjoy all our state has to offer? Consider what Michigan is home to: Four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, over 20 million acres of forests, four national parks, 103 state parks and recreation areas, 1,300 miles of designated bike trails, more than 600 campgrounds, and dark sky parks for stargazing (including one in Southwest Michigan). It is hard to believe that when this all started, it was still winter. Now, as we quickly approach the start of summer, I encourage you to take advantage of Southwest Michigan’s natural beauty. Go outside and enjoy all that God has blessed us with.

As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Our small businesses are eager to welcome you back

After three months of strict social distancing measures, coronavirus cases in Michigan are thankfully trending in the right direction. Small businesses – including restaurants and bars – are starting to reopen, which have really suffered throughout this pandemic. With the help of the Paycheck Protection Program and commonsense reforms to this successful relief fund that I strongly supported, small business owners are eager to safely reopen their doors, rehire their employees, and welcome back their customers after an unexpected hiatus. Here in Southwest Michigan alone, we have so many extraordinary small businesses and restaurants that are getting back up and running, and I know they are ready to continue serving our communities and their longtime patrons. Our small businesses have long been the backbone of our communities, and now more than ever, they need our support. With summertime in full swing, I ce