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Letter to the editor

On March 5th, 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd of Boston colonists, killing five. The incident named, “The Boston Massacre,” incited intense anger in the colonies. This anger, combined with the pains of enduring systematic injustices, created a particularly incendiary moment in American history. Nobody was willing to represent the British soldiers in court, except for John Adams, the outspoken member of the Sons of Liberty and the future President of the United States. He realized equal protection under the law meant equal protection for everyone, including the soldiers.

In the United States, progress is defined by expanding those rights to the parts of our society that were wrongfully excluded before. In our history, we have abolished slavery, we have extended the right to vote to women, and we have expanded our definition of marriage to same-sex couples. Definitely, there are still systems of oppression in our society. Time will show that Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity are on the right side of history on these big issues.

However, we must show restraint while making this societal progress. Although it is excruciatingly painful, we must be patient and wait for our systems of justice to show the facts on both sides before issuing recourse. When that system fails to act independently and fairly, like it has for many minority and low-income people, we, as citizens, are responsible for condemning the system, but we are not responsible for condemning the people. If we entrust administering convictions to popular opinion, then extending the protection of the law is meaningless because the law can no longer protect anyone. No matter the good intentions, rushing to judgement leads to mistakes that violate the rights of the accused and put everyone’s life in jeopardy.

It is good that we feel empathy for Duke workers. It is good that we feel empathy for Ms. Underwood. It is good that we want to extend equal protection to those people who do not have it and break out of systems of oppression that really do exist. However, as challenging as it might be, we must also try to empathize with those we accuse by being patient for the facts. Tallman Trask, Kyle Cavanaugh and Carl DePinto are real people who have families, who have friends and who have emotions. As much as Ms. Underwood deserves equal rights, so do they.

I appreciate that Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity have focused their demands more heavily in fixing the problems that exist in our systems of labor and justice. Furthermore, I hope the members of the Duke community will always show restraint in casting premature judgement on the lives of people we do not know using information from only one side.

Bryan Dinner

Trinity '16

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