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More than mere allegations

By Leith Jasinowski-Kahl
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 23, 1999
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To the editor,

The front page of your Monday paper featured a picture of me running down a street through an "Earth Day" parade carrying half a torn banner. I thank you for covering the protest of that Raytheon Corporation-sponsored event. However, the coverage you gave that parade contained some major flaws which I feel I must bring to your attention and to the attention of your readers.

The most glaring of these flaws was your picture caption, which stated that I "ripped down the banner." Nothing could have been farther from the truth. I was one of the protesters holding up the banner, which was ripped in half against my will by two "Earth Day" security guards. I then ran down the length of the street parade with the fragment of banner that was left in my hand. Apparently, whoever wrote your picture caption did not read the accompanying article, which reported these events fairly accurately.

Unfortunately, while your article correctly described the events of the protest, its coverage of the context surrounding that protest was rather shallow. You stated that a letter to the "Earth Day Festival committee" from the Sierra club "alleges Raytheon's predecessor, Hughes Aircraft, and the Air Force spent over three decades dumping a highly poisonous substance known as TCE into South Tucson's soil and ground water."

This TCE contamination is not an "allegation." It is a fact, and you could have confirmed that with a simple phone call to either the EPA, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality or the Arizona Water Resources Department.

You also state the following in your article: "Sierra club members also 'allege' in the document that the contamination has made hundreds of people sick."

This is also a fact, not an "allegation," although I concede that this would have been more difficult for you to investigate. You would have had to go to the library, sit down at a computer, select the "Health and Medicine" search category under SABIO's "Research by Subject" and combine a search for "TCE" or "Trichloroethylene" with a search for "Tucson." You would have found no less than 11 references from respected medical journals confirming these hundreds of sicknesses you called an "allegation."

I must gently make yet one more correction for you. It is 6th Avenue that I am "skipping down" in that picture, not "Scott Street" as your caption claims.

Leith Jasinowski-Kahl
Theater arts sophomore