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Next time, let's get it right

Local editorials

Harried police overreacted to a nonviolent crowd in Jacksonville

Local police gave a lesson last Thursday in Jacksonville on how not to conduct crowd control. Law enforcement officials should quickly review what happened and why and determine how to handle future incidents more successfully.

In fairness to the police officers involved in trying to clear California Street in front of the Jacksonville Inn, where President Bush was having dinner, they were in a classic no-win situation.

Orders came to them, apparently from the Secret Service, that the street was to be cleared in a matter of minutes. At the same time, the crowds lining both sides of the street were too numerous to quickly move two blocks to the east while being required to remain on the sidewalks.

To make matters worse, at least one person decided on the spur of the moment not to cooperate with police instructions by sitting down and refusing to move. We have no sympathy with that behavior, or with anyone else who in any way resisted being moved.

But it's clear to us, based on the account of a Mail Tribune reporter who was there, that the officers on the street overreacted to what clearly was not a violent or threatening situation by pushing and shoving, and ultimately by firing pepper balls from an air rifle, striking people in the crowd.

The crowd was composed of supporters of the president, those who had come to voice opposition, and the merely curious. After all, it's not every day that the president comes to town. All were caught up in a situation that should have been handled better.

— It's safe to say that it will probably be some time before local police are called upon to conduct that kind of crowd control again. More than enough time for those in charge to evaluate this incident and improve their techniques.

Thanks, Boise

Here's a belated note of thanks to a local company that stepped up in a big way to help the area's hungry. We refer to Boise Building Solutions, formerly Boise Cascade Corp., which donated &

36;50,000 to pay for a 12-foot refrigerated truck that will give local food banks access to dairy and meat products that until now have often been discarded.

That access will come through ACCESS, which oversees food programs for the hungry in Jackson County. Thanks to Boise's donation, the agency will be able to pick up food that has reached its pull date in grocery stores, but that is still entirely safe and edible.

That will put valuable protein into the diets of our county's poor and hungry. The program will be boosted by a partnership with the two Fred Meyer stores in Medford and hopes to expand to 10 stores within a year, It ultimately could provide up to a half-million additional meals annually.

Boise has also donated &

36;29,000 in plywood and weatherization repair to ACCESS. The company's connection with the agency dates to a 1998 mill fire after which many Boise employees found themselves out of work and in need of the services of ACCESS.

ACCESS has done a phenomenal job in extending its services to people in need. It couldn't have done that job without the help of community-minded businesses like Boise Building Solutions.