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Letter: Police overreach

I read with interest Dan Crowley’s article of June 18th titled “Hadley bicyclists’ rights case rolls on in federal court.” Let us not be distracted. This is not about bicyclists. The real issue is whether police, entrusted by their community to “protect and serve” and designated by the local government to enforce state and local laws, honored those commitments. In this instance, the Hadley police took advantage of this status.

Their actions created a dangerous situation for Mr. Damon, the most serious of which was erroneously charging him with illegal wiretapping, a felony carrying a penalty of a $10,000 fine and five years imprisonment. It is hard for me to believe they didn’t know that a recording device has to be hidden in order for the charge to be valid. This charge is just a more genteel version of the rubber hose — a cruel and vindictive action in order to teach Mr. Damon not to challenge them.

The pattern of abuse of power is clear. The Hampshire Gazette has reported incidents of harassment and corruption within the department and I know of many incidents, just within my circle of friends, of police overreach and overreaction in situations where peopleare just going about their business. While feigning concern about Mr. Damon’s safety, police ignored Mr. Damon’s overtures for a meeting to resolve the issue. Instead they chose to abuse their authority and misuse the legal system through frequent stops, intimidating actions and invalid charges. If Mr. Damon was in fact in violation of a transportation statute they definitely would have charged him. The only option Mr. Damon has is to seek relief from the court by way of an unconditional restraining order as long as he is not doing anything that is specifically illegal and clearly defined by statute.

LINDA COOPER

Amherst

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