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Radicals' home life shouldn't count

January 26, 2007

Re "8 ex-radicals arrested in '71 police slaying," Jan. 24

It is frightening that a professor at one of America's most prestigious law schools seems to indicate that the guilt or innocence of someone accused of murdering a police officer should take a back seat to whether they have "become husbands and grandfathers and neighborhood organizers. It's a reflection that with all they've been through, they've still been able to raise their heads high." If they are indeed guilty, which has yet to be established, what about the deception they've perpetrated on their friends, family and the public for more than 30 years?

KEVIN HILL

Van Nuys

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In the first sentence of this article, we are told that some of the eight former radicals arrested in the shotgun slaying of a police officer are "now husbands, grandfathers and community organizers." Why is their family status relevant? Does it somehow change their guilt or innocence?

ANDY COHEN

Rancho Palos Verdes

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A few years ago, when white racists Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry were finally convicted of murder for their role in the 1963 church bombing in Alabama that killed four girls, civil rights activists cheered. No one felt that pursuing conviction after such a lapse of time was a "perversion of justice" or "beyond explanation."

Why should the prosecution of these alleged black ex-radicals be treated any differently? Racial justice advocates such as Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree do a disservice to their cause when they appear to support such a double standard. The torture that some of the accused endured in earlier attempts to extract confessions is deplorable. But it's also beside the point. If new DNA evidence points to them, they should be tried and held accountable for their crimes.

CARLYNN VON OEYEN

Los Angeles

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