March 28-April 3, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

So much to grieve for

I want to thank you for publishing a much more complete description of the circumstances surrounding Jeremiah Chass' death than other media sources ("Deadly Force," March 21).

I also want to convey my shock and anger at how the situation was handled by our officers. Ask any social worker: this kind of case is not as unusual as we might think and if the right de-escalation techniques are utilized, it can be resolved without the use of violence. I am shocked at the absence of any these techniques and, at the least, the lack of a TASER, which could have prevented this violence. The most appalling and inexcusable aspect of this situation was the officers' intent to kill. This, I am sure, was not their intention initially, but when the gun went off it was.

I am outraged at the violence used and lack of forethought put into this situation by the officers in question. I call upon our community to demand the Sheriff's Department and social services put measures in place to ensure that this will not happen again. I ask of all of us, how can we hold our teenagers in a way that helps them through their pain?

I grieve for the loss of Jeremiah, his deep caring, who he was becoming and what we have lost. I grieve for his mother, father and brother who cared for him so tenderly. There is no way to understand the depth of their pain. But I have this to say to them: Know that your community, friends and strangers alike are standing behind you in this painful time. I also grieve for the officers who felt there was no other way out of the situation but the use of extreme violence. This says something about our society. Lastly, I grieve for the presence of violence everywhere in our world and how it shatters people's lives daily.

Melissa Patterson, Sebastopol

Knowing psychotic breaks

Thank you for the information the mass media did not provide regarding the shooting of Jeremiah Chass. It is a sad and true thing--it sounds like Jeremiah was having a psychotic break, probably in relation to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a brain chemistry imbalance, it has a genetic disposition and sometimes stressors bring it on. Clinically, it occurs in males between ages of 17 and 26, and generally later in females.

I know this because my son had a similar psychotic break when he was 18 years old. There is no warning, just a withdrawal that leaves you hoping it is an adolescent thing. My son has paranoid schizophrenia. On the night he broke, he was hearing voices and believed he was being watched, that there were cameras everywhere. He left the house at 3am. We were quick at it and the cops brought him back. These cops were good; we warned them about his break. Unlike Jeremiah, we made it to the hospital.

The public needs education about schizophrenia. It is not a rare thing. One out of 100 get this illness; 10 percent commit suicide. Mine is not the only family in Sonoma County with this. There are many of us, all silent because of the stigma. These people are sick, not crazy or good for a laugh. Have compassion. There is no cure. My son is not who he was, but I live for the times when I can see him. He has lost all his friends; he was college-bound but can no longer sit through one class. Please educate parents and friends and, most especially, the police. They did everything wrong in treating a delusional break and escalated his psychosis. The poor child. Please make his death worth something.

Ginny Breeland, Rohnert Park

Dept. of 'Best of' Nonsense

Ah, Best Of (March 21), what a delightful treat for the editorial staff! Ah, Best Of, that tricky slinky monster of an issue that results in nothing but smiles and kisses all around the edit room. Ah, Best Of, the largest single source of errors in any given year. Dear sweet Best Of, which always demands that I file a couple of apologetic paragraphs like the following, perhaps resulting in some new nonsense. Ah, Best Of!

To wit, Rileystreet (Readers' Choice, Best Art Supply Store, Sonoma County) is found by telephone at 707.526.2416, not whatever numeric nonsense we printed.

Those trying to track down the quackery of history had better aim a little farther north than that nonsense we reported in "Best Historical Leftover" (Writers' Picks, Culture). The fading sign for Dr. Pierce's Medical Discovery is just north of the Geyserville exit off of Highway 101, d'oh--not the Guerneville exit. G-words, go figure . . .

Also in the hallowed halls of Readers' Choice Culture, please know that the Raven Players won Honorable Mention for Best Theater Troupe (Sonoma County), not whatever nonsense we originally printed. And while theater is being sussed, it is in fact the Summer Repertory Theater at Santa Rosa Junior College taking the trophy for Best Theater Troupe (Readers' Choice, Sonoma County), not any other soy-inked nonsense we might have strewn about.

Meanwhile, in the all-important Brewpub category (Readers' Choice, Food & Drink, Marin County), Rafter's is actually found at 812 Fourth St., San Rafael, not that other nonsense we erroneously reported.

If there's any nonsense of which we are still blissfully unaware, please write to Dept. of Hari-Kari, care of [email protected], and we'll do our best to ignore it until next week. Apologies to those whose information we fouled. But that's the great thing about Best Of--there's always next year!

The Ed.
Dept. of Doughnuts, xanax, yoga and weeping

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