LETTER from TOPHER HAMMOND
To the Editor:
I wrote previously about the new K-9 at Bassett Hospital, and I predicted that the dog would be used to intimidate people.
On Oct. 2, I got a phone call from a friend who has lived next to the hospital for decades. She was in a state of shock because six Bassett security personnel had just chased a skinny black man off Bassett property with the attack dog at his heels, barking and straining at the leash to get a piece of him.
According to the man, he was waiting outside the hospital for his girlfriend’s mother, who was being released after foot surgery, when he received a call on his cell phone from someone who wasn’t supposed to be contacting him. He was upset by the call and got a bit loud with the caller. Security approached him after the phone call was over and insisted that he leave Bassett property immediately instead of just asking him not to be loud.
My friend called out to him to ask if she could help him. She said he was very polite and didn’t seem the least bit threatening. He broke down crying when she asked him what was the matter. He was worried because he’d called a cab to pick him up at Bassett. My friend watched as he pleaded with the security officers standing at the curb near the hospital, saying to them, “sir, sir, I’m sorry I got too loud,” while the security guards just laughed at him and let the dog keep barking and straining at the leash to attack him.
My friend was very upset by this unsavory spectacle. something like Birmingham Alabama in the 1960s. We should be sensitive to issues of race and how we appear to visitors.
The sight of six laughing white security guards chasing a black man with an attack dog just because he had a loud conversation on the phone is disturbing, and puts a blot on the reputation of Cooperstown.