Mailbag: Readers react to D.C. riot, local demonstrations

Riot police
Riot police clear the hallway inside the Capitol in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The tragic events of the last two weeks in Washington have been heartbreaking to watch. Having worked as a congressional staff assistant back in 1972, I know first-hand the majesty and symbolism of the U.S. Capitol.

It’s not hyperbole when I say I felt sick to my stomach watching legions of rioters storm the same hallways I used to walk decades ago. So, my question now is where do we go from here?

Certainly it’s not where sports writer Jason Whitlock wants. In a recent article republished in the Blaze, he compared the Jan. 6 insurgents to college students conducting an old fashioned panty raid. He supported his theory by saying the rioters were “unarmed and mostly peaceful” and that they only “shoved furniture out of place and shattered a window or two.”

As far as I am concerned, you don’t have to be George Washington or Abraham Lincoln to know nothing Mr. Whitlock wrote could be further from the truth. And speaking of truth, how many people today still think America is the land of freedom because we are a nation of laws?

If you believe your ears, some Capitol Hill rioters were overheard saying, “Hang Mike Pence.” I don’t care if you are a card-carrying conservative or a bleeding-heart liberal, this latest news should shock you to your core. Political differences are one thing, but criminal behavior in the light of day is another.

When I asked former Rep. Harley Rouda where he believes the country is headed he replied, “I can’t tell you how devastating it is to see the Capitol and surrounding areas in complete lockdown with National Guard everywhere; to walk through Statuary Hall and recall the vivid images of lawless rioters overrunning our cherished symbol of democracy; and, knowing we are closer to the beginning than the end of this continued assault on the truth. To say I am worried is an understatement.”

Indeed. During Donald Trump’s term in office, core American principles such as your vote counts and the peaceful transfer of power were under assault like never before. It’s these very cornerstones of democracy we should be talking about, Mr. Whitlock, not a silly panty raid.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach


In the opening scenes of the 2000 film “Gladiator,” the Roman army led by Russell Crowe’s character Maximus face off against a barbarian horde in Germania.

The battle begins when a Roman emissary is killed and decapitated with the Barbarian leader holding up his head and taunting the Romans. The barbarians in the movie remind me of the assault on the Capitol in Washington D.C. earlier this month. In this case, they were incited by President Donald J. Trump.

We have seen similar unrest in Huntington Beach. An irresponsible minion of Trump, Tito Ortiz, is now our mayor pro tem. Like Trump, he thumbs his maskless nose at health and safety and apparently cares little for the best interests of the citizens he represents. He must not become the face of our city next year if he continues to disgrace our local government.

What we’re going through now is not a movie drama. It is real and disturbing. To paraphrase Maximus, “What we do in life echoes through history.” We should be mindful of those words in responding to this period of insurrection and lawlessness.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach


Tito Ortiz refuses to wear a face mask. This is an act of odious defiance that denies scientific evidence and promotes ignorance over good judgment. Ortiz should have no place in the leadership of Huntington Beach municipal governance. But perhaps he could find a place at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, where he could join Donald Trump, unmasked in the face of the coronavirus and unhinged from facts and reality.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

The promise of a new year

The “American Dream” was created by the hope and resiliency of hard-working people who persevered through the years with their blood, sweat and tears, determined to make a better life for themselves and their families.

We need to always remember not to lose our dream, as hope has no fear. It helps us to be strong when everything goes wrong. This year in Orange County was tumultuous and devastating, especially for the elderly and the homeless; almost everyone has been stricken with grief, strife and devastation. This new world is unknown to us and has created animosity, anxiety and unfamiliar sorrow among families, friends and neighbors.

As we enter into the year 2021, perhaps hope is the gift of life and that we have a purpose to regenerate, reinvigorate and reflect on a New Year.

This should be a lesson to all, life should not be taken for granted and that technology should not replace the human spirit and that “good will” shall prevail. If we commit to memory, where our ancestors came from and what they fought for in the beginning, we will comprehend and appreciate those small things that we may have overlooked in 2020 and into those years ahead.

It begins with each of us to be the best of what we stand for and to educate and learn from our past. We need to recognize that each of us has an obligation to make our country and our community healthier. We must return to our core values and have a sense of trust, not in our government but in one another.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Peggy V. Palmer
Newport Beach


Names brought story home

Thank you so much for publishing the names of our brothers and sisters who were homeless and have left us this past year (TimesOC, Homeless suffer most deaths in Orange County history, Jan. 10).

Their lives mattered. I knew someone on that list. He tried hard and was a good person. It could be anyone of us, or someone we know and love. Again, thank you for saying their names.

Jane Hall Bove
Fountain Valley

Foley’s run could be O.C.'s gain

In 2018 Orange County elected a group of leaders who brought positive people and a goal-oriented philosophy to Congress and the California Assembly.

Now those of us who live in District 2 are going to get the opportunity to elect a like-minded individual to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Katrina Foley, the first elected mayor of Costa Mesa, is running for that position (vacated by U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel) against a field of at least three other candidates.

Just as representatives Katy Porter, Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda, and Cottie Petrie-Norris brought fresh new ideas and enthusiasm to their newly elected positions in 2018 to counter the stale politics of “no new taxes” and Republican domination at all costs, Katy is running to bring the same spirit to the Board of Supervisors.

The negative role that the board played during the pandemic should speak to those of us who disliked that they initially did nothing to help people and businesses in the county prepare for the devastating loss of lives and businesses.

Similarly in other city councils surrounding Costa Mesa, rarely was the loss of lives to the pandemic ever emphasized. Katrina Foley, in contrast, sought to help the community by requiring masks and attempting to enforce the mask rule, which was a difficult task when the surrounding cities and the Supervisors refused to do the same. The board needs someone of Katrina’s positive philosophy to make it pertinent again.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

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