LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Vaughn siege no ‘opportunity’ to advance criminals’ causes

It is fitting and proper that condolences be extended to the family of Lt. Steven Floyd [Sr.], as well as the entire Delaware Department of Correction community. The loss of a husband and father, who was, in addition, an outstanding public servant and friend to many, is profound, and sharing our sympathies with those left in the wake of such tragedy is the very least we Delawareans can do for our grieving family members.

The commentary written by Mr. Jackson [“Finding a path forward through collaboration,” Opinion page, Feb. 5] should have ended after his first paragraph. As any reasonable person would, I take great exception to Mr. Jackson’s characterization of the incident at [James T.] Vaughn Correctional [Center] as an opportunity to “resolve any persistent issues highlighted by the demands made by the prisoners involved with this unfortunate turn of events.”

There was no “unfortunate turn of events,” Mr. Jackson; what you are describing was a deliberate series of violent criminal actions that included the torment of a female civilian, vicious assaults on two correctional officers and which climaxed in the cold-blooded murder of an innocent man. It is “unfortunate” when rain falls on a wedding; the murder of Lt. Floyd was not only a heinous crime, but an attack on the very structure of our civil society.

What is truly unfortunate is that the NAACP (as described by Mr. Jackson) is committed to using this tragedy as a springboard to advance the cause of the very criminals who committed these atrocities. It is entirely inappropriate for any other citizen to commit such crimes, and the convicts at Vaughn are no exception.

It is unacceptable for a mother to take a school board hostage over a problem she has with her children’s education, it would be abhorrent for a homeowner to murder a county assessor because his property taxes are too high, and it should violate the conscience of every Delawarean to even suggest that demands made by the criminals at Vaughn gain any legitimacy whatsoever through their willingness to use brutal violence.

If Mr. Jackson and the NAACP are truly interested in “looking for equitable solutions” for the greater good of all Delawareans, they should abandon this reckless support for ongoing criminal enterprise. This means ending the culture of silence that prevents crimes from being solved, it means abandoning efforts to provide aid and comfort to vicious criminals that prey upon our communities, and it means supporting the police and correctional officers who risk their lives daily to prevent these same criminals from destroying our lives and livelihoods.

Even the perception that engaging in violence presents a pathway towards sanction, amnesty or reward of any kind by the convicts at Vaughn or any other institution endangers not only the lives of the brave men and women who serve the First State in Correction, but also, endangers the free peoples of Delaware, whom these same criminals have already shown an unrelenting desire to prey upon.

The criminals Mr. Jackson advocates for have chosen, through deliberate action and of their own free will, to follow a predatory path that violates the natural rights of all those within our state and its communities. These convicts must be made to understand that violating the laws of the civil society will result in further removal from it, not comfort or reward.

The policies of acquiescence, compromise, privilege and discretion that Mr. Jackson advocates have literally killed one man already, and we are honor-bound to ensure that every measure is taken to prevent any further violence from being committed. It is intolerable to suggest that the use or threat of unlawful force is reason to placate brutal criminals who, by virtue of their actions, both past and present, have committed themselves to the abuse of our beloved Delaware.

Michael Rodriguez

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