Media images wrong about city of Oakland

My apology to the city of Oakland. I apologize for my preconceived notions. Television shows riots or shootings, one after another. I let the media influence my decision not to travel there, except to go to the airport. I hear how awful the city is. Not true. I apologize that I didn't see your diverse culture.

One recent Friday, I finally decided to walk downtown and see what's up. I was shocked.

No riots, no destruction, no protesters -- vibrant businesses, smiling faces. I took a free bus from 19th Street to Jack London Square, it was beautiful. From there I walked through Chinatown. Oakland has a Chinatown? Next door was a farmers market. I walked past a store window and caught my reflection. Had I been smiling the entire time?

I apologize for not understanding how wonderful your city is. I spent two hours walking through Uptown, Downtown, Oldtown, Chinatown and Jack London, not understanding why I had not done this before.

I never understood or believed when Oaklanders say "there is more than what you see on television." I get it. I will return.

Kevin C.L. Jamison

Richmond

Israel should not call itself civilized

I was horrified to see the dreadfully racist ad paid for by Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative and displayed on Muni buses in San Francisco.

The ad reads, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Apart from the dreadful warmongering that this message conveys, it also begs the question of how "civilized" Israel actually is. This is a country whose government imprisons Palestinians indefinitely for peacefully demonstrating against the demolition of their homes; the uprooting of ancient olive trees that are the heart of Palestinian life; the stealing of Palestinian land and water resources; and the forced expulsion of Palestinians.

The Israeli government also makes day-to-day life almost impossible for thousands of Palestinians through an extensive network of checkpoints that prevent them from going to school, hospital and work, often with tragic results.

How civilized are these actions? Not in the slightest. Israel has no business calling itself a civilized nation so long as it continues its 45-year-old illegal occupation of Palestine and engages in these kinds of actions.

Katharine Davies Samway

Oakland

Ashamed of the city's retired cop treatment

I want to single out Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente for his unscrupulous and total lack of support of the retired members of the Oakland Police Department.

I frequently saw him come begging to the police officers' association board for support in his numerous election bids, which members granted him. In return for support, he has waged an attack against the retired men and women of the police and fire departments, whose average age is 73.

This outrageous and unconscionable attack is to take from them benefits that have been promised and awarded over the decades by numerous court decisions and labor contracts negotiated by previous councils.

He has violated his word to support the dedicated men and women of the police and fire departments. Instead of supporting these honorable men and women, and their families and survivors, as he promised, he has used his position to twist his knife in their backs and now brings them undue hardship and pain.

All City Council members supporting his attack should be ashamed of themselves.

Ray Miller

Livermore

Time to take away the NRA's control

How many more wake-up calls do we need? Again we find ourselves mourning and trying to understand the tragedy of Aurora, Colo. Perhaps it's time for all of us to accept our responsibility and admit that we also play a part in allowing this to happen.

Are we so naive to think that sensible gun laws are all that's needed to stop the killings? Of course not, but it is a step in the right direction. No one should be allowed to accumulate enough ammunition for a small army.

Weapons of war should not be on our streets. An AR-15 assault rifle is used for one purpose only, to kill many people at one time. These should not be available to civilians. Who can disagree with this?

It is time to take away the control the NRA has over those in political leadership of our country, and demand to reinstate the assault weapons ban that was passed in 1994 and was allowed to expire in 2004 as a result of the fierce lobbying of the NRA.

Elaine Sanchez

Fremont