To the Editor:
I want to thank Jim Knipper, father of a student demonstrator, for his letter supporting the students who provided our community with a public and peaceful demonstration of their social and political concerns on January 20, Inauguration Day. "Students for Peace," a group of high school and college students, arrived at Palmer Square in Princeton at 4 p.m. with the intention of demonstrating peaceably and in silence.
A group of about 15 chose to lie on the ground to represent the loss of life and civil liberties. Signs on their jackets indicated what they were representing: HIV/AIDS victims, victims of torture, victims of the war, and the loss of civil and voting rights. The Coalition for Peace Action had a table set up at the site, with literature and petitions for any interested.
Contrary to comments made by the Borough's police captain in local articles reporting on the event, there was no blockage of the sidewalk, or interference of any kind with traffic, pedestrian or otherwise, in the area. The captain never came to the site. When questioned later by a reporter, he responded, "the three Borough police officers on patrol broke up the protest because it was blocking the sidewalk. Also, the group did not have a parade permit that would allow them to stage such an event."
I was present when the police required the group to leave immediately, and at no time did those officers mention that the sidewalk was blocked. That would have been difficult, given that it was not. As Mr. Knipper observed, it is rather challenging to "parade" when one is lying quietly on the ground representing the dead.
The students, adult members of the Coalition for Peace Action, and passers-by questioned the officers regarding our basic right to demonstrate peaceably, but Princeton Borough officers clearly stated that those rights are not available on Borough property without a permit.
A phone call by the executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action to Professor Frank Askin, an expert on constitutional law at Rutgers Law School, confirmed that the actions of the officers deprived the students of their constitutional rights, and that they are legally allowed to hold posters and distribute literature without a permit. The ACLU has also confirmed these findings. Based on documents from the ACLU, Princeton Borough has been cited repeatedly since 1996 regarding violations to the constitutional rights of individuals within its borders.
A request has been made for an investigation of this incident, and I believe the students deserve to know the outcome of that investigation. We owe much more to these students and all who wish to demonstrate their convictions in a peaceful and compelling way.
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism," observed Thomas Jefferson. I want to thank the students for the time and effort they made to remind all of us that actions taken by those who represent us result in deaths, through war or through neglect. Their demonstration obviously was unwelcome by some individuals, but those individuals should question why they were compelled to request the students' removal, and the police department should provide legal justification.
To the Editor:
A handful of years ago, my grandfather passed away. A veteran of the Great War, he was stubborn and hard-headed to the end. However, he was the only grandfather I ever knew and he instilled in me an appreciation for sacrifice, hard work, and ethics, characteristics that seem to be in short supply these days.
Today I was reminded of my grandfather and the characteristics he represented by an unexpected source, a United Parcel Service worker. Many may think this an odd occurrence; however, the only thing other than memories I inherited from my late grandfather was an antique barometer. Enclosed in a glass box, it has multiple moving parts, sensitive dials, and extremely fragile needles and internal mechanisms. Given a recent move overseas, I decided to ship the barometer in question without much regard to the potential damage it could suffer. I took the piece to the UPS store in the Princeton Shopping Center where a friendly young woman expressed her concern that the barometer could suffer damage in shipment. I requested that she pack it up as well as she could and sent it anyway. It was not until after it had left that I realized the importance that such a simple device could be to me, representing the only physical link to the memories of a lost family member. I assumed that the barometer would arrive in pieces.
Today I received the package and carefully opened it to find every piece individually taped, wrapped in protective plastic and placed in boxes with foam to cushion any impact the parcel could have received in its long voyage. It was at this point that I realized the care, sensitivity, and work well beyond the expected that had gone into this package. The barometer has now traveled half-way around the world and does not have even the slightest scratch.
I do not know the name of the UPS worker from the Princeton Shopping Center, nor do I know if she was the one who spent the time, energy and self-sacrifice that have brought back so many memories. All I do know is that I am very grateful and wish to thank her and her colleagues. Although it may appear a minor deed, it is the minor deeds that separate those who care about and are proud of the work they do from the vast majority of those who do not.
To the Editor:
Valentines of Food!
As school volunteers for the Princeton Parent Teachers Association, we are conducting a Valentine's food drive for the Crisis Ministry of Trenton and Princeton from February 7 through 14. The Crisis Ministry provides canned goods, dry foods, and other staples to those in need in Mercer County.
Many people send valentines to folks they care for. Each of these valentines could easily cost $3.99. A $3.99 Valentine of Food can feed a Crisis Ministry recipient household for a full day, or even two.
All community members are invited to join our students, families and staff in donating Valentines of Food from February 7 through 14. How?
By taking cans, boxes, or plastic bottles of food staples to any of the following Princeton schools: Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook Park, Riverside, John Witherspoon, Princeton High School, and St. Paul's School.
By donating directly to this Crisis Ministry food drive by sending a check to any of the schools made out to Crisis Ministry Food.
By purchasing one or more $3.99 Valentine Bags of Food at McCaffrey's Princeton Market. McCaffrey's will double that price and provide a $7.99 value of food to the Ministry.
Food can also be brought to Nassau Presbyterian Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, or the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton.
For more information, contact any of us through our schools or Don Dickason, Crisis Ministry volunteer for the food drive, at (609) 683-4006.
Thank you for helping.
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my dismay at the decision of the hospital management to move away from Princeton. It is surprising to me that Mr. Rabner has been able to convince so many local leaders that it is desirable to abandon the concept of a community hospital in favor of a new institution that is designed to be competitive with the several regional hospitals that already exist in this part of the state. As I understand it, the main argument for such a move is the perceived difficulty of expanding the hospital at the present site. Apparently little or no consideration was given to the thought that expansion is not mandatory. Bigger is not necessarily better in many things, including hospitals.
I think it would he better for the hospital board and administration to devote their efforts to maintaining the quality of service offered by the hospital while keeping the present scale of operations unchanged. Admittedly the hospital is not a Mayo Clinic or a Memorial Sloan Kettering, but there is really no need for a community hospital to rise to such levels.
Based on personal experience I know that the existing Princeton Hospital offers high quality care in a location that is convenient to the local community. I hope that thoughts of empire building in a new location will be forgotten and that whatever actions that are needed to keep the present operation intact will be taken.
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