Letters | August 6, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - August 6, 2010


Racial incident


Last week, the occupants of a pickup truck — two or three young white men — shouted the "N word" at me as I biked through Palo Alto to my job at the VA Hospital. I briefly gave chase, hoping to get a view of the license plate number, but to no avail. The men made obscene gestures and shouted more racial epithets as the truck turned onto Charleston Avenue toward Alma. Infuriated over this attack on my dignity, I dialed 911.

As an African-American, I've experienced much worse treatment in the past, but nothing like this had ever happened to me in my 11 years as a Bay Area resident. I consider this to be an isolated incident, but one is simply one too many. It is a reminder that even in a relatively progressive area such as this, bigotry and racism can rear their ugly heads at the most unexpected time: during a leisurely bike ride on a warm, otherwise lovely, summer afternoon.

I do not seek to start some kind of larger dialogue on race. I do, however, hope that complacency about racial issues will not stifle meaningful discussions within our community about how to eradicate intolerance, so that no one — regardless of his or her background or circumstances — will feel vulnerable as they go about the business of their day.

On the bright side, I have been heartened by words of support from friends who were shocked and outraged by what happened.

Moreover, the Palo Alto police dispatch official who took my call was outstanding. She asked appropriate questions, listened to my concerns, and was a model of professionalism and compassion. Thus, I am hopeful that a "post-racial" society is achievable, but there is much work to do.

Kareem L. Graham

Department of Pathology

Stanford University School of Medicine

Bike parking


Last week your staff members came to work and discovered that a beautiful young tree had been destroyed in front of your office. The tree — a Chinese Pistache — was cut down by a thief interested in a bicycle that was locked to the tree.

The negative practice of locking bikes to trees is common on Palo Alto streets such as California and University avenues. Locking bikes directly to trees and/or tree-stakes causes direct harm to trees (and apparently makes them better targets for theft!).

Young trees have a very thin layer of bark protection over their vascular living tissue. Cuts and bruises can seriously interrupt transport of water and nutrients and expose the tree to infection by pests and diseases.

As more and more people discover the benefits of cycling, available bike parking isn't as readily available — and trees are paying the price.

Don't get me wrong, I cycle to work, and I see bicycles as a form of sustainable, efficient and healthy transportation. It's just that I expect better judgment from cyclists. After all, cyclists supposedly recognize the environmental and social benefits of riding instead of driving.

I hope that the cyclists in our community will take a few extra moments to find a suitable bike rack rather than wrapping the nearest sapling with chains, locks, and bars.

Elliott Wright

Santa Rita Avenue

Palo Alto

Telephone Pole 1139

Telephone Pole 1139 for the past 10 years has been my Palo Alto resident homeless address for voting and running for Palo Alto City Council. Palo Alto is my hometown and I grew up here. ...

Running for Palo Alto City Council out of the back of a Toyota truck was very hard to do. Yes, I did get many laughs: "Look, there is a homeless City Council Candidate." There are many homeless stories to be talked about telephone pole 1139. Today there are five RVs parked there, not bothering anyone. The grass is cut, so there is no fire danger.

This is a rebuttal to the Palo Alto Weekly, July 30. The "End vehicle dwelling" petition asks — this is an old homeless issue, just like the sit-lay issue — move the homeless along; we don't want them here.

I'm challenging the sit-lay ordinance, which is going to cost the city of Palo Alto a lot of money.

... The people of Palo Alto are starting to understand that they will respect ... the basic human rights and natural rights of the homeless. I have become a product of their failure. Soon my homeless life (panhandling, too) will be coming to an end. I'm becoming financially set and able to afford to raise a family. No more homeless stuff — this is real. My question to the College Terrace residents and others in Palo Alto: Where is the KOA homeless RV park I asked to be put out near the Duck Pond? I'm sure that over a hundred RVs could be parked there, clearing the streets of Palo Alto of trash, providing solar showers and a convenience store, also a day-labor program to do the landscaping and clean up. When I ran for office I laid out a complete program.Where did that go?

The "End vehicle dwelling," petition will not fly. I will be fighting this homeless issue, too. You must have open beds in the Opportunity Center, then you can cite the people living in their vehicles. Right now there is a waiting list of 1,500 people trying to get into the center. ...

Yes I will challenge the new PA law if there is one and sue.

The homeless population is growing every day, like I said a long time ago.

Help us, don't trash us, please. Thank you.

Victor Frost

Telephone Pole 1139

Palo Alto


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